Traction Valentines

I believe this photo postcard of Chicago Surface Lines 5812 was taken at the 72nd and Cottage Grove loop. Don's Rail Photos says, "5712 was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, #18322. It was rebuilt as one man/two man service in 1933 and retired on August 25, 1947." This picture appears to date between 1914 and 1933.

I believe this photo postcard of Chicago Surface Lines 5812 was taken at the 72nd and Cottage Grove loop. Don’s Rail Photos says, “5712 was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, #18322. It was rebuilt as one man/two man service in 1933 and retired on August 25, 1947.” This picture appears to date between 1914 and 1933.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and here we have some tasty traction Valentines for your consideration. First, we have some recent finds of our own, followed by many generously shared from the collections of William Shapotkin. We finish this post with an important find from J. J. Sedelmaier.

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

LVT 812 in front of the Easton car barn on a June 30, 1947 fantrip. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 812 in front of the Easton car barn on a June 30, 1947 fantrip. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 710 at Philadelphia, PA on August 19, 1945. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 710 at Philadelphia, PA on August 19, 1945. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1000 is on an ERA fantrip, "at the east end of the Ham Street Bridge," in Allentown on October 29, 1950. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1000 is on an ERA fantrip, “at the east end of the Ham Street Bridge,” in Allentown on October 29, 1950. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1003 is at the Allentown car barn in September, 1940. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1003 is at the Allentown car barn in September, 1940. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1004 in Allentown, October 1939. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 1004 in Allentown, October 1939. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LT 1006 at Allentown on January 23, 1943. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LT 1006 at Allentown on January 23, 1943. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 803, in dead storage awaiting scrapping in Allentown, on November 8, 1939. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

LVT 803, in dead storage awaiting scrapping in Allentown, on November 8, 1939. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)

A single-car CTA Skokie Swift train leaves Howard Street in June 1977.

A single-car CTA Skokie Swift train leaves Howard Street in June 1977.

An artist's rendering of the high-level us subway the CTA envisioned for Washington Street between Canal and Michigan, 1961.

An artist’s rendering of the high-level us subway the CTA envisioned for Washington Street between Canal and Michigan, 1961.

Indiana Railroad #1150 is southbound at Springport station on the New Castle line on January 1, 1941 in the waning days of that storied Hoosier interurban. (Eugene Van Dusen Photo)

Indiana Railroad #1150 is southbound at Springport station on the New Castle line on January 1, 1941 in the waning days of that storied Hoosier interurban. (Eugene Van Dusen Photo)

SF Muni cable car 524 is at Powell and Market at 1 am on September 2, 1956.

SF Muni cable car 524 is at Powell and Market at 1 am on September 2, 1956.

SF Muni cable car 503 at Washington and Octavia on September 1, 1956.

SF Muni cable car 503 at Washington and Octavia on September 1, 1956.

Cable car track work at Powell and California on October 31, 1957.

Cable car track work at Powell and California on October 31, 1957.

Red Arrow Lines Brilliner #7 is running on the street, presumably on the Sharon Hill branch, on November 27, 1960.

Red Arrow Lines Brilliner #7 is running on the street, presumably on the Sharon Hill branch, on November 27, 1960.

On June 3, 1962 Red Arrow car 20 is turning onto a cobblestone street on the Sharon Hill line.

On June 3, 1962 Red Arrow car 20 is turning onto a cobblestone street on the Sharon Hill line.

At first, you might think this lineup of NSL cars in dead storage at Highwood (headed up by 158) is post-abandonment, but apparently not. The slide not only has a 1/20/63 date stamped on it (last full day of operations), the slide was processed by Kodak in January 1963.

At first, you might think this lineup of NSL cars in dead storage at Highwood (headed up by 158) is post-abandonment, but apparently not. The slide not only has a 1/20/63 date stamped on it (last full day of operations), the slide was processed by Kodak in January 1963.

In this April 11, 1964 view, one of the former North Shore Line Electroliners has been rechristened as a Red Arrow Liberty Liner on the Norristown High Speed Line in Philadelphia's suburbs. I would expect that the abandoned right-of-way at left is where the Strafford branch once was.

In this April 11, 1964 view, one of the former North Shore Line Electroliners has been rechristened as a Red Arrow Liberty Liner on the Norristown High Speed Line in Philadelphia’s suburbs. I would expect that the abandoned right-of-way at left is where the Strafford branch once was.

North Shore Line electric loco 456 heads up a short freight train on January 20, 1963-- the last full day of operations prior to abandonment.

North Shore Line electric loco 456 heads up a short freight train on January 20, 1963– the last full day of operations prior to abandonment.

CTA 7108, already signed for its northbound trip on Route 36, is near 120th and Halsted in the 1950s.

CTA 7108, already signed for its northbound trip on Route 36, is near 120th and Halsted in the 1950s.

CTA 4095 is eastbound at Lake and Ashland on June 24, 1961. In the ackground, you can see the old Lake Transfer station, where riders could change (up until February 1951) for Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains.

CTA 4095 is eastbound at Lake and Ashland on June 24, 1961. In the ackground, you can see the old Lake Transfer station, where riders could change (up until February 1951) for Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains.

A CTA two-car Lake Street "L" train heads east in this 1960 photo by Al Holtz.

A CTA two-car Lake Street “L” train heads east in this 1960 photo by Al Holtz.

April 1963.

April 1963.

From the Collections of William Shapotkin

CTA trolley us 9377 is at Irving Park and Neenah. This bus turnaround is no longer in use by CTA, and has now become part of a driveway for a development.

CTA trolley us 9377 is at Irving Park and Neenah. This bus turnaround is no longer in use by CTA, and has now become part of a driveway for a development.

At right, 2411-2412 are on the same fantrip mentioned in the revious photo. At left, a southbound Howard-Dan Ryan train passes the Diversey station on the Ravenswood "L". William Shapotkin took this picture on December 13, 1998.

At right, 2411-2412 are on the same fantrip mentioned in the revious photo. At left, a southbound Howard-Dan Ryan train passes the Diversey station on the Ravenswood “L”. William Shapotkin took this picture on December 13, 1998.

At right, CTA cars 2411-2412 are on an NRHS (National Railway Historical Society) fantrip. At left, a southbound Howard-Dan Ryan train blasts by the Armitage station on the Ravenswood "L". William Shapotkin took this photo on December 13, 1998.

At right, CTA cars 2411-2412 are on an NRHS (National Railway Historical Society) fantrip. At left, a southbound Howard-Dan Ryan train blasts by the Armitage station on the Ravenswood “L”. William Shapotkin took this photo on December 13, 1998.

CTA 2177 heads up an Evanston Express train at Armitage on July 10, 1989.

CTA 2177 heads up an Evanston Express train at Armitage on July 10, 1989.

CTA bus 8413 is southbound on Broadway at Lawrence in October 1973, running on Route 36. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)

CTA bus 8413 is southbound on Broadway at Lawrence in October 1973, running on Route 36. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)

CTA 3140, working a southbound trip on CTA Route 38 - Indiana, heads southbound on Wabash Avenue, crossing Roosevelt Road. Visible above the red car at right is the one-time Union Bus Deport. The view looks north.

CTA 3140, working a southbound trip on CTA Route 38 – Indiana, heads southbound on Wabash Avenue, crossing Roosevelt Road. Visible above the red car at right is the one-time Union Bus Deport. The view looks north.

CTA trolley bus 9537, working Route 12 - Roosevelt Road, departs its east end terminal at Roosevelt Road east of Wabash Avenue. the view looks north.

CTA trolley bus 9537, working Route 12 – Roosevelt Road, departs its east end terminal at Roosevelt Road east of Wabash Avenue. the view looks north.

CSL 5925 heads southbound on Wabash Avenue and crosses Roosevelt Road. The Union Bus Depot is on the northeast corner. The view looks northeast.

CSL 5925 heads southbound on Wabash Avenue and crosses Roosevelt Road. The Union Bus Depot is on the northeast corner. The view looks northeast.

CTA trolley bus 9453, working a westbound trip on Route 12 - Roosevelt Road, has just crossed Wabash Avenue. (The building on the northeast corner is the one-time Union Bus Depot.) The view looks northeast on May 27, 1967, taken from the CTA Roosevelt Road station.) Jeffrey L. Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA trolley bus 9453, working a westbound trip on Route 12 – Roosevelt Road, has just crossed Wabash Avenue. (The building on the northeast corner is the one-time Union Bus Depot.) The view looks northeast on May 27, 1967, taken from the CTA Roosevelt Road station.) Jeffrey L. Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)

A northbound Lake-Englewood "A" train of 2000-series cars approaches the "L" station at 40th and Indiana in September 1993. (Myron Lane Photo)

A northbound Lake-Englewood “A” train of 2000-series cars approaches the “L” station at 40th and Indiana in September 1993. (Myron Lane Photo)

A northbound CTA train approaches the Indiana "L" station on the south side of Chicago on June 28, 1992. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip, celebrating a century of rapid transit. (Jim Arvites Photo)

A northbound CTA train approaches the Indiana “L” station on the south side of Chicago on June 28, 1992. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, celebrating a century of rapid transit. (Jim Arvites Photo)

CTA 2821, a wooden Met car running northbound on the Kenwood shuttle circa 1956-57. These were the last type of cars used for that service, which ended in 1957.

CTA 2821, a wooden Met car running northbound on the Kenwood shuttle circa 1956-57. These were the last type of cars used for that service, which ended in 1957.

We are looking east off the CTA's Indiana Avenue "L" station in the early 1950s. At left, a Kenwood train has just departed en route to 42nd Place. At right, two 200-series cars (used as equipment on the Kenwood line) are in storage on what once had been the northbound local track of the South Side "L".

We are looking east off the CTA’s Indiana Avenue “L” station in the early 1950s. At left, a Kenwood train has just departed en route to 42nd Place. At right, two 200-series cars (used as equipment on the Kenwood line) are in storage on what once had been the northbound local track of the South Side “L”.

CTA gate car 268 at the Indiana Avenue station "pocket."

CTA gate car 268 at the Indiana Avenue station “pocket.”

CTA 268 is a Kenwood local, at the Indiana Avenue station.

CTA 268 is a Kenwood local, at the Indiana Avenue station.

A two-car train, including #227, is being stored for Kenwood service, on what had once been the northbound local track on the South Side "L", in the early 1950s.

A two-car train, including #227, is being stored for Kenwood service, on what had once been the northbound local track on the South Side “L”, in the early 1950s.

CTA 385 is at the Indiana Avenue station in July 1948, signed as a Wilson Avenue local via the elevated (instead of the State Street subway, which opened in 1943). The following year, the CTA introduced A/B "skip stop" service to North- South and the Kenwood and Stockyards ranches became shuttles.

CTA 385 is at the Indiana Avenue station in July 1948, signed as a Wilson Avenue local via the elevated (instead of the State Street subway, which opened in 1943). The following year, the CTA introduced A/B “skip stop” service to North-
South and the Kenwood and Stockyards ranches became shuttles.

CTA car #273, working the Kenwood "L" shuttle, is seen at the 40th and Indiana Avenue station. The view looks northeast.

CTA car #273, working the Kenwood “L” shuttle, is seen at the 40th and Indiana Avenue station. The view looks northeast.

Once the Kenwood and Stockyards ranch lines became full-time shuttle operations, the CTA station at 40th and Indiana Avenue was reconfigured. Here is a Kenwood car in the "pocket."

Once the Kenwood and Stockyards ranch lines became full-time shuttle operations, the CTA station at 40th and Indiana Avenue was reconfigured. Here is a Kenwood car in the “pocket.”

Looking west from the west end of the Indiana Avenue "L" station, 4000-series "L" cars are laying over on the Stockyards "L". 4000s were used on this branch during the 1952 and 1956 political conventions held at the International Amphitheater. (Joseph N. Canfield Photo)

Looking west from the west end of the Indiana Avenue “L” station, 4000-series “L” cars are laying over on the Stockyards “L”. 4000s were used on this branch during the 1952 and 1956 political conventions held at the International Amphitheater. (Joseph N. Canfield Photo)

The Indiana Avenue station on the South Side "L" circa 1956. A northbound Englewood-Howard train departs the station, while a Stockyards shuttle train awaits departure time. The view looks east. (Joseph N. Canfield Photo)

The Indiana Avenue station on the South Side “L” circa 1956. A northbound Englewood-Howard train departs the station, while a Stockyards shuttle train awaits departure time. The view looks east. (Joseph N. Canfield Photo)

Looking east (timetable south) into 63rd and Cottage Grove station on the Jackson Park "L" on May 12, 1996. (William Shapotkin Photo)

Looking east (timetable south) into 63rd and Cottage Grove station on the Jackson Park “L” on May 12, 1996. (William Shapotkin Photo)

A Lake-Jackson Park train approaching 63rd and Cottage Grove on May 12, 1996. The train has crossed over to the northbound track and is arriving at the station. (William Shapotkin Photo)

A Lake-Jackson Park train approaching 63rd and Cottage Grove on May 12, 1996. The train has crossed over to the northbound track and is arriving at the station. (William Shapotkin Photo)

A southbound Jackson Park train approaches 63rd and Cottage Grove on May 12, 1996. The train is about to cross over and arrive at the station. The view looks west (timetable north) from the north platform. (William Shapotkin Photo)

A southbound Jackson Park train approaches 63rd and Cottage Grove on May 12, 1996. The train is about to cross over and arrive at the station. The view looks west (timetable north) from the north platform. (William Shapotkin Photo)

Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on O'Neil Street (now 23rd Place) from Halsted Street. Well into the 1900s, this was an important terminal/transfer point. Note cable slots-- the West Chicago Street Railroad Company's Halsted-Van Buren cable line terminated in the carbarn at left. This was also the south terminal of Chicago Union Traction's Halsted line. CUT car #4171 (Pullman 1898) prepares for its northward journey. (Fred J. Borchert Photo)

Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on O’Neil Street (now 23rd Place) from Halsted Street. Well into the 1900s, this was an important terminal/transfer point. Note cable slots– the West Chicago Street Railroad Company’s Halsted-Van Buren cable line terminated in the carbarn at left. This was also the south terminal of Chicago Union Traction’s Halsted line. CUT car #4171 (Pullman 1898) prepares for its northward journey. (Fred J. Borchert Photo)

Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on 23rd (O'Neil) Street from Halsted Street, once a busy street-- once a busy streetcar/cable car terminal (with a carbarn). The rails (along with a crossover) are still intact and visible in this July 30, 2004 photo by William Shapotkin.

Chicago, IL. Looking westbound on 23rd (O’Neil) Street from Halsted Street, once a busy street– once a busy streetcar/cable car terminal (with a carbarn). The rails (along with a crossover) are still intact and visible in this July 30, 2004 photo by William Shapotkin.

(William Shapotkin Photo)

(William Shapotkin Photo)

Bus stop sign at the northwest corner of 23rd (O'Neil) Street and Halsted Street. The view looks northeast on July 30, 2004. (William Shapotkin Photo)

Bus stop sign at the northwest corner of 23rd (O’Neil) Street and Halsted Street. The view looks northeast on July 30, 2004. (William Shapotkin Photo)

Chicago, IL. Looking eastbound on 3rd (O'Neil) Street towards Halsted Street, once a busy streetcar/cable car terminal. Both sets of rails (which head onto northbound Halsted) are still visible (as of July 30, 2004) lo these many years since the discontinuance of streetcar service. (William Shapotkin Photo)

Chicago, IL. Looking eastbound on 3rd (O’Neil) Street towards Halsted Street, once a busy streetcar/cable car terminal. Both sets of rails (which head onto northbound Halsted) are still visible (as of July 30, 2004) lo these many years since the discontinuance of streetcar service. (William Shapotkin Photo)

Indiana Avenue station on the South Side "L". Left-- a northbound Kenwood train arrives, while at right, a westbound Howard train also arrives. The view looks east off the overhead transfer ridge in 1950. (Joseph N. Canfield Photo)

Indiana Avenue station on the South Side “L”. Left– a northbound Kenwood train arrives, while at right, a westbound Howard train also arrives. The view looks east off the overhead transfer ridge in 1950. (Joseph N. Canfield Photo)



Another North Shore Line Poster

Following up on our previous post Anniversaries (January 24, 2019), here is an interesting find, courtesy of our friend J. J. Sedelmaier.

Looking north on Chicago's Michigan Avenue at Ohio Street circa mid-late 1920s. BTW - the billboard on the right was originally produced in 1925 as a South Shore Line one-sheet poster. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Looking north on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue at Ohio Street circa mid-late 1920s. BTW – the billboard on the right was originally produced in 1925 as a South Shore Line one-sheet poster. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.

Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)

To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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A Long Time Gone

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

June 21st marks 60 years since the last Chicago streetcar ran. If you consider that 80 years is, perhaps, about an average lifespan, that means 3/4ths of such a time has now passed since that historic event.

The number of people still living who rode Chicago streetcars is dwindling, and is certainly only a small fraction of the current population. At age 63, I must be among the youngest people who can say they rode a Chicago streetcar on the streets of Chicago, much less remember it.

But the number of people who have taken a ride on a Chicago streetcar does increase, since there are a number of them that are operable at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. The Seashore Trolley Museum (Kennebunkport, ME) has another car (225) that is operated infrequently.

The experience of riding at a railway museum is, of necessity, somewhat different than what people experienced 60+ years ago on the streets of Chicago. However, as a “streetcar renaissance” is underway across the country in various cities, the number of track miles in city streets has been increasing. In those places, it is possible to experience something more like what Chicago once had.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin will soon join that list, just 90 miles north of Chicago. After a similar 60-year gap in streetcar service, their first new line, aka “The Hop,” is expected to begin service mid-November. (You can read our recent update here. Since our article appeared, the new cars have begun testing out on the streets.)

Interestingly, a heritage trolley recently began service in Rockford, Illinois, which is also about 90 miles from Chicago.

For the past 18 years, Kenosha, Wisconsin (about 65 miles from Chicago) has operated a tourist trolley, which you can even reach using Metra‘s Union Pacific North Line.

Perhaps the streetcar line that would offer a ride closest to what Chicagoans could once experience, however, is the SEPTA #15 Girard Avenue line in Philadelphia, which is operated with modernized PCC cars.

I can also recommend the Muni F-Market and Wharves line in San Francisco, which operates using a variety of historic equipment.

Anyway you look at it, this anniversary is a good excuse to feature some classic Chicago traction photos, which we hope you will enjoy.

But wait– there’s more!

June 22, 1958 is another important date in Chicago transit history. 60 years ago, a new CTA rapid transit line opened in the median of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. This line, also known as the “West Side Subway,” replaced the Garfield Park “L” and was the culmination of plans made 20 years before.

Another important anniversary is approaching on October 17th– the 75th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s first subway. In December, it will be 80 years since subway construction began.

For these reasons, and more, we have written a new book called Building Chicago’s Subways, to be released by Arcadia Publishing this October 1st. Information about how to pre-order this book appears further down in this post.

The idea for Building Chicago’s Subways first came to me a few years ago, when I realized these important anniversaries were approaching. A few months after the publication of Chicago Trolleys last fall, I pitched the idea to Arcadia, and that is when the real work began.

Much additional research had to be done. I read everything I could find on the subject. Photos came from my own collections and those of other collectors, who have graciously permitted their use in this project.

Here is a short description of the book:

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

The story goes back much further than that… before there were rapid transit tunnels, there were tunnels under the Chicago River, used by cable cars and streetcars. In the early 1900s, private enterprise built an extensive system of freight tunnels under the downtown area. And there was about 40 years of wrangling over what kind of subway to build, where to build it, and who should pay for it.

I found it a fascinating tale, and am gratified that I have been able to complete this new book in time for the anniversary, and within the living memory of Chicagoans who were here to witness these events 75 long years ago. The State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee and West Side Subways have changed life for everyday Chicagoans forever.

-David Sadowski

PS- The Chicago Transit Authority posted this excellent video showing the last run of car 7213 in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958 (the June 22 date in the video is not correct):

Jeffrey L. Wien and I, along with the late Bradley Criss, collaborated on the book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, published in 2015 as Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

For this anniversary, I asked Mr. Wien, who rode on the last Chicago streetcar, to reminisce for our readers:

Today, June 21, 2018, marks the 60th anniversary of my ride on the Last Chicago Streetcar with my high school friend Greer Nielsen. Thinking back 60 years I recall that it was a very melancholy event, one that remained in my mind for the rest of my life.

Thinking back 60 years can be a challenging task, but I do remember that it was a warm and muggy night on that last ride. CTA PCC 7213 was the last car on the shortened route 22 Wentworth line. The last run south from Clark and Kinzie began around 4am. There were probably at least 100 people crammed into that car so that they could say that they rode the Last Chicago Streetcar. As the car headed south through the Loop headed to 81st and Halsted, the group was quite loud and raucous, but as we went farther and farther south, the crowd quieted down, perhaps because we wanted to hear the sound of the streetcar in the streets of Chicago for the very last time.

When we arrived at 81st and Halsted, everyone got off the car for photos, private and official, and then reboarded the car for the last time for the short trip to Vincennes and 78th where the car pulled off of the street. It was about 6:15am by that point in time, and the Sun was just rising.

As the 7213 pulled away from Vincennes Avenue heading into the Rising Sun, we knew that we had witnessed an historic event in the history of Chicago. 99 years of traction history in Chicago ended at that moment. For me, it was a very sad moment for it was like losing a very good friend.

Jeff Wien

Chicago Area Recent Finds

Chicago's PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

Chicago’s PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 - Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line "L" in the background. The date written on this slide mount was 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 – Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line “L” in the background. The date written on this slide mount is 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 - Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 – Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

The same building as in the previous picture.

The same building as in the previous picture.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L". Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it's possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it’s possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L" on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel "L" structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel “L” structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)

In September 1959, we see a two-car train of CTA 4000s, preparing to head east. I believe the location is Marion Street in Oak Park and not Marengo Avenue in Forest Park as written on the slide mount. Marengo is a short distance west of Harlem, and although Lake Street trains did go there, the buildings in this picture match Marion. We have another picture in this post showing what the area west of Harlem actually looked like. (William Shapotkin Collection)

In September 1959, we see a two-car train of CTA 4000s, preparing to head east. I believe the location is Marion Street in Oak Park and not Marengo Avenue in Forest Park as written on the slide mount. Marengo is a short distance west of Harlem, and although Lake Street trains did go there, the buildings in this picture match Marion. We have another picture in this post showing what the area west of Harlem actually looked like. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Photographer Bob Selle notes: Two-car "L" train (4420 at right) on Lake Street line just west of Harlem Avenue." In the distance, you can see the actual terminal. Not that many people boarded there, compared to the Marion Street station just east of Harlem Avenue. This picture was taken on May 1, 1955.

Photographer Bob Selle notes: Two-car “L” train (4420 at right) on Lake Street line just west of Harlem Avenue.” In the distance, you can see the actual terminal. Not that many people boarded there, compared to the Marion Street station just east of Harlem Avenue. This picture was taken on May 1, 1955.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing some wavy track and the actual station and bumper post (or is it turned-up rail?) at the west end of the Lake Street "L" prior to 1962. Riders could board trains at the station, which was located about two blocks west of Harlem Avenue.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing some wavy track and the actual station and bumper post (or is it turned-up rail?) at the west end of the Lake Street “L” prior to 1962. Riders could board trains at the station, which was located about two blocks west of Harlem Avenue.

CTA one-man car 3125, heading west on Route 16, is turning north from Lake Street onto Pine Street, where Lake takes a jog. In the process, it crosses the ground-level Lake Street "L". This picture was taken on September 26, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA one-man car 3125, heading west on Route 16, is turning north from Lake Street onto Pine Street, where Lake takes a jog. In the process, it crosses the ground-level Lake Street “L”. This picture was taken on September 26, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo)

A two-car train of 4000s is on the Lake Street "L" during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway on February 25, 1958. The new highway opened in 1960. Further south, the Garfield Park "L" also crossed the highway footprint and had to be shored up around the same time this photo was taken. But once the new Congress rapid transit line opened on June 22, 1958 the Garfield line was no longer needed and the structure was removed where it crossed the highway, cutting the line off from the rest of the system. The remaining portions of structure west of there were removed in 1959; east of there, parts remained until 1964. The Lake Street "L", on the other hand, rechristened the Green Line, is still here.

A two-car train of 4000s is on the Lake Street “L” during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway on February 25, 1958. The new highway opened in 1960. Further south, the Garfield Park “L” also crossed the highway footprint and had to be shored up around the same time this photo was taken. But once the new Congress rapid transit line opened on June 22, 1958 the Garfield line was no longer needed and the structure was removed where it crossed the highway, cutting the line off from the rest of the system. The remaining portions of structure west of there were removed in 1959; east of there, parts remained until 1964. The Lake Street “L”, on the other hand, rechristened the Green Line, is still here.

In this picture, taken in April 1964, we see the back end of a CTA two-car train of 4000s as they head east at Halsted on the Lake Street "L". By this time, the western portion of the line had been relocated onto the C&NW embankment, and therefore there was no further need to use overhead wire. But the new 2000-series "L" cars had not yet replaced the 4000s in this line, which they would do shortly. This station, built in 1892-93, was closed in 1994 for the Green Line rehabilitation project, but never reopened. It was demolished in 1996 and the new Morgan station, two blocks to the west, more or less replaced it when it opened in 2012.

In this picture, taken in April 1964, we see the back end of a CTA two-car train of 4000s as they head east at Halsted on the Lake Street “L”. By this time, the western portion of the line had been relocated onto the C&NW embankment, and therefore there was no further need to use overhead wire. But the new 2000-series “L” cars had not yet replaced the 4000s in this line, which they would do shortly. This station, built in 1892-93, was closed in 1994 for the Green Line rehabilitation project, but never reopened. It was demolished in 1996 and the new Morgan station, two blocks to the west, more or less replaced it when it opened in 2012.

On August 13, 1964 CTA single-car unit 45 prepares to stop at Isabella station on the Evanston line. The car is signed as an Evanston Express, but I do not think it would have operated downtown as a single car. Therefore, it must be in Evanston shuttle service. (August 13, 1964 was a Thursday, so the Evanston Express was running that day, though.) (Photo by Douglas N. Grotjahn)

On August 13, 1964 CTA single-car unit 45 prepares to stop at Isabella station on the Evanston line. The car is signed as an Evanston Express, but I do not think it would have operated downtown as a single car. Therefore, it must be in Evanston shuttle service. (August 13, 1964 was a Thursday, so the Evanston Express was running that day, though.) (Photo by Douglas N. Grotjahn)

CTA red Pullmans 521 (on Ashland) and 640 (on 63rd Street) meet on May 14, 1953. This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd. By then, PCC cars had been transferred from 63rd to Cottage Grove. The Curtis restaurant, located in this vicinity but behind the photographer, was a favorite of my parents. It is perhaps no coincidence that I have a brother named Curtis. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA red Pullmans 521 (on Ashland) and 640 (on 63rd Street) meet on May 14, 1953. This was near the end of streetcar service on 63rd. By then, PCC cars had been transferred from 63rd to Cottage Grove. The Curtis restaurant, located in this vicinity but behind the photographer, was a favorite of my parents. It is perhaps no coincidence that I have a brother named Curtis. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4095, built by Pullman, has just left the Madison-Austin loop on the west end of Route 20 on June 1, 1953. Buses continue to use this loop today, although it has been somewhat reconfigured. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4095, built by Pullman, has just left the Madison-Austin loop on the west end of Route 20 on June 1, 1953. Buses continue to use this loop today, although it has been somewhat reconfigured. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA 4271-4272 head up a northbound Evanston Express train passing through the Chicago Avenue station on June 26, 1958. These two cars, which were originally independent but were converted to semi-permanent "married pairs" in the 1950s, are still on CTA property and within a few years will celebrate their centennial. When the last of the 4000-series "L" cars were retired in 1973, these were chosen for preservation as historic cars. They are occasionally used for special events. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA 4271-4272 head up a northbound Evanston Express train passing through the Chicago Avenue station on June 26, 1958. These two cars, which were originally independent but were converted to semi-permanent “married pairs” in the 1950s, are still on CTA property and within a few years will celebrate their centennial. When the last of the 4000-series “L” cars were retired in 1973, these were chosen for preservation as historic cars. They are occasionally used for special events. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA red Pullman 270 is on Cicero at North Avenue, where Cicero took a bit of a jog which has since been somewhat straightened out. The date is July 19, 1948. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA red Pullman 270 is on Cicero at North Avenue, where Cicero took a bit of a jog which has since been somewhat straightened out. The date is July 19, 1948. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolleybus 9219 on Route 77 - Belmont, running eastbound at approximately 952 W. Belmont (near Sheffield). The photographer was up on the north-south "L" platform. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolleybus 9219 on Route 77 – Belmont, running eastbound at approximately 952 W. Belmont (near Sheffield). The photographer was up on the north-south “L” platform. (William Shapotkin Collection)

The building in the previous picture is still there. For several years, there was a club on the second floor, first called the Quiet Knight, later on Tut's. I attended many great concerts there in the 1970s and 80s.

The building in the previous picture is still there. For several years, there was a club on the second floor, first called the Quiet Knight, later on Tut’s. I attended many great concerts there in the 1970s and 80s.

Chicago Surface Lines 1775 crosses the Chicago River at Wabash Avenue on May 30, 1945, promoting the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). The nearby State Street bridge was out of service from 1939 to 1949 due to subway construction and wartime materials shortages.

Chicago Surface Lines 1775 crosses the Chicago River at Wabash Avenue on May 30, 1945, promoting the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). The nearby State Street bridge was out of service from 1939 to 1949 due to subway construction and wartime materials shortages.

CSL 1775, decorated to promote the SPARS*, is on 119th one block west of Halsted in August 1943. Car 1775 was chosen for patriotic duty because that was the year the Revolutionary War broke out, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. *The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Women's Reserve, better known as the SPARS, was the World War II women's branch of the USCG Reserve. It was established by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 23 November 1942.

CSL 1775, decorated to promote the SPARS*, is on 119th one block west of Halsted in August 1943. Car 1775 was chosen for patriotic duty because that was the year the Revolutionary War broke out, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
*The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Women’s Reserve, better known as the SPARS, was the World War II women’s branch of the USCG Reserve. It was established by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 23 November 1942.

On August 25, 1946 CSL one-man car 3093 is running outbound on private right-of-way between Morgan and Throop on Route 23, Morgan-Racine-Sangamon.

On August 25, 1946 CSL one-man car 3093 is running outbound on private right-of-way between Morgan and Throop on Route 23, Morgan-Racine-Sangamon.

On May 25, 1958 we see CTA two-man PCCs 7206 and 4390 at 78th and Wentworth (South Shops). Both were products of St. Louis Car Company, as all 310 postwar Pullman PCCs had been scrapped by then for the "PCC conversion program" that used some of their parts in new 6000-series rapid transit cars. In spite of the roll signs shown here, Chicago streetcars were limited to running on a single route between downtown and the south side. The last northside car ran in 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)

On May 25, 1958 we see CTA two-man PCCs 7206 and 4390 at 78th and Wentworth (South Shops). Both were products of St. Louis Car Company, as all 310 postwar Pullman PCCs had been scrapped by then for the “PCC conversion program” that used some of their parts in new 6000-series rapid transit cars. In spite of the roll signs shown here, Chicago streetcars were limited to running on a single route between downtown and the south side. The last northside car ran in 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 7151, a product of St. Louis Car Company, heads south on Route 49 - Western at North Avenue in 1953. The "L" station behind it was part of the Humboldt Park branch, which was abandoned in 1952. Once the station was closed, signs advertising "L" service were removed although I don't believe this portion of the structure was removed until the early 1960s. Note that riders at this safety island are boarding at the rear, as this is a two-man car.

CTA PCC 7151, a product of St. Louis Car Company, heads south on Route 49 – Western at North Avenue in 1953. The “L” station behind it was part of the Humboldt Park branch, which was abandoned in 1952. Once the station was closed, signs advertising “L” service were removed although I don’t believe this portion of the structure was removed until the early 1960s. Note that riders at this safety island are boarding at the rear, as this is a two-man car.

CTA 4393 is at the 79th and Western loop, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA 4393 is at the 79th and Western loop, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4376 is turning into the loop at 79th and Western, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4376 is turning into the loop at 79th and Western, south end of Route 49, on July 19, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)

On May 1, 1955 CERA held a fantrip using 2800-series wooden "L" cars. Here, the train makes a photo stop at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, then the western end of the Garfield Park "L". The terminal had been reconfigured in 1953 when CA&E trains stopped running downtown. It would be reconfigured again in 1959. By 1960, the Congress expressway was extended through this area. (Robert Selle Photo)

On May 1, 1955 CERA held a fantrip using 2800-series wooden “L” cars. Here, the train makes a photo stop at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, then the western end of the Garfield Park “L”. The terminal had been reconfigured in 1953 when CA&E trains stopped running downtown. It would be reconfigured again in 1959. By 1960, the Congress expressway was extended through this area. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA two-man arch roof car 3189 is southbound on Halsted Street near the Garfield Park "L" overpass, south of Van Buren Street on September 17, 1953. As had previously happened with 63rd Street, PCCs had been taken off this route and replaced by older red cars for the final few months of service. 3189 is on the bridge that would eventually go over the Congress expressway, which was then under construction. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA two-man arch roof car 3189 is southbound on Halsted Street near the Garfield Park “L” overpass, south of Van Buren Street on September 17, 1953. As had previously happened with 63rd Street, PCCs had been taken off this route and replaced by older red cars for the final few months of service. 3189 is on the bridge that would eventually go over the Congress expressway, which was then under construction. (Robert Selle Photo)

Here's what photographer Bob Selle wrote on this negative envelope: ""L" cars fresh from the paint shops, MU-coupled, for trip to South side "L" lines: deck roofer 2912 and steel car 4224 at Quincy and Wells platform. June 14th, 1955."

Here’s what photographer Bob Selle wrote on this negative envelope: “”L” cars fresh from the paint shops, MU-coupled, for trip to South side “L” lines: deck roofer 2912 and steel car 4224 at Quincy and Wells platform. June 14th, 1955.”

CSL 4062 was the first postwar PCC put into service. It was built by Pullman. Here, we see it as delivered at 78th and Vincennes on September 30, 1946. Note the different paint scheme the first cars had in the "standee" windows area.

CSL 4062 was the first postwar PCC put into service. It was built by Pullman. Here, we see it as delivered at 78th and Vincennes on September 30, 1946. Note the different paint scheme the first cars had in the “standee” windows area.

CSL 298 is on Wabash at Cermak on September 14, 1934.

CSL 298 is on Wabash at Cermak on September 14, 1934.

This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, "I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67." Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.

This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, “I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67.” Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.

Photographer Bob Selle writes, "CTA one-man car 6174 eastbound as it crosses Halsted Street on Root Street (43rd Street line), leaving west end of line. August 1, 1953."

Photographer Bob Selle writes, “CTA one-man car 6174 eastbound as it crosses Halsted Street on Root Street (43rd Street line), leaving west end of line. August 1, 1953.”

Photographer Bob Selle writes, "Car 6177 leaving south end of Kedzie barn for Cermak Road, February 14, 1953."

Photographer Bob Selle writes, “Car 6177 leaving south end of Kedzie barn for Cermak Road, February 14, 1953.”

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4084 leaving the Kedzie Station (car barn) on September 13, 1950. The car at right appears to be either a 1949 or 1950 Ford. My father had a 1949 model, and as cars were very much in demand after the end of World War II, the dealer put him on a waiting list. After being on the list for six months, he found that he had actually gone further down the list than he was at the start! So he wrote a letter complaining about this to Henry Ford II, and the next thing you know, they sold him a car. Presumably the PCC is heading out on Route 20 - Madison. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4084 leaving the Kedzie Station (car barn) on September 13, 1950. The car at right appears to be either a 1949 or 1950 Ford. My father had a 1949 model, and as cars were very much in demand after the end of World War II, the dealer put him on a waiting list. After being on the list for six months, he found that he had actually gone further down the list than he was at the start! So he wrote a letter complaining about this to Henry Ford II, and the next thing you know, they sold him a car. Presumably the PCC is heading out on Route 20 – Madison. (Robert Selle Photo)

This negative did not come with any identifying information, but it is obviously from a February 12, 1939 fantrip where the fledgling Central Electric Railfans' Association chartered Chicago Rapid Transit Company "L" cars 4317 and 4401 and took them out on parts of the CA&E including the Mount Carmel branch. However, since that line used overhead wire, that's not where this picture was taken. Instead, it appears to be out near the end of the line at Mannheim and 22nd Street on the CRT's lightly used Westchester line, which was built in anticipation of housing being built in this area (which did not come about until the 1950s). South of Roosevelt Road, the line was single-track, which appears to be the case here. If not for the Great Depression, more housing would have been built here. We have previously run two other pictures from the same fantrip, both taken on the Mt. Carmel branch. The CTA substituted bus service for "L" on the Westchester line in 1951 as it did not want to continue paying rent to the CA&E, which had already announced its intentions to truncate passenger service to Forest Park, which meant similar rent payments to the CTA were about to cease.

This negative did not come with any identifying information, but it is obviously from a February 12, 1939 fantrip where the fledgling Central Electric Railfans’ Association chartered Chicago Rapid Transit Company “L” cars 4317 and 4401 and took them out on parts of the CA&E including the Mount Carmel branch. However, since that line used overhead wire, that’s not where this picture was taken. Instead, it appears to be out near the end of the line at Mannheim and 22nd Street on the CRT’s lightly used Westchester line, which was built in anticipation of housing being built in this area (which did not come about until the 1950s). South of Roosevelt Road, the line was single-track, which appears to be the case here. If not for the Great Depression, more housing would have been built here. We have previously run two other pictures from the same fantrip, both taken on the Mt. Carmel branch. The CTA substituted bus service for “L” on the Westchester line in 1951 as it did not want to continue paying rent to the CA&E, which had already announced its intentions to truncate passenger service to Forest Park, which meant similar rent payments to the CTA were about to cease.

CTA PCC 4087 leaves the Kedzie car barn during the morning rush on July 1, 1953 and is signed for the Madison-Fifth branch line. (Robert Selle Photo)

CTA PCC 4087 leaves the Kedzie car barn during the morning rush on July 1, 1953 and is signed for the Madison-Fifth branch line. (Robert Selle Photo)

The end is near for CTA 4402 and the other couple dozen or so PCC cars that remained at the end of service. Ultimately, only car 4391, now at the Illinois Railway Museum, was saved. This picture was taken at 77th Street yards on June 15, 1958. (Robert Selle Photo)

The end is near for CTA 4402 and the other couple dozen or so PCC cars that remained at the end of service. Ultimately, only car 4391, now at the Illinois Railway Museum, was saved. This picture was taken at 77th Street yards on June 15, 1958. (Robert Selle Photo)

CSL 5387 is westbound at 63rd and Dorchester, having just gone under the Illinois Central viaduct on June 13, 1947. Even though this neg was lightstruck on the top edge (almost all of which I cropped out), I thought it was an interesting streetscape with the diner and what appears to be some sort of pawn shop or resale shop. The Jackson Park branch of the "L" went over the IC at this point, and has since been cut back.

CSL 5387 is westbound at 63rd and Dorchester, having just gone under the Illinois Central viaduct on June 13, 1947. Even though this neg was lightstruck on the top edge (almost all of which I cropped out), I thought it was an interesting streetscape with the diner and what appears to be some sort of pawn shop or resale shop. The Jackson Park branch of the “L” went over the IC at this point, and has since been cut back.

On August 28, 1955 Illinois Central Electric suburban 1161 and its trailer are crossing Halsted Street at 121st on their way to Blue Island. There was a fantrip that day (hence the fans,), but this was not the fantrip train apparently. (Robert Selle Photo)

On August 28, 1955 Illinois Central Electric suburban 1161 and its trailer are crossing Halsted Street at 121st on their way to Blue Island. There was a fantrip that day (hence the fans,), but this was not the fantrip train apparently. (Robert Selle Photo)

CSL 1872 is on Franklin at Jackson on June 13, 1947.

CSL 1872 is on Franklin at Jackson on June 13, 1947.

CSL red Pullman 293 is at Roosevelt and Wabash on June 13, 1947.

CSL red Pullman 293 is at Roosevelt and Wabash on June 13, 1947.

This Chicago, Aurora & Elgin image is from an original 1950s Kodachrome slide that was not processed by Kodak. I am not quite able to make out the car number, but it looks like it is one of the 420s. The location is downtown Elgin, along the Fox River. The Rialto Theater burned down in 1956.

This Chicago, Aurora & Elgin image is from an original 1950s Kodachrome slide that was not processed by Kodak. I am not quite able to make out the car number, but it looks like it is one of the 420s. The location is downtown Elgin, along the Fox River. The Rialto Theater burned down in 1956.

This picture is somewhat blurred, which makes one wonder why the late Edward Frank, Jr. printed it and sold it. But it does show CSL 1819 and a passing Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train. The curved section of track suggests this may have been taken near the Sacramento curve. That's probably Ed Frank's bicycle in the lower right hand corner.

This picture is somewhat blurred, which makes one wonder why the late Edward Frank, Jr. printed it and sold it. But it does show CSL 1819 and a passing Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train. The curved section of track suggests this may have been taken near the Sacramento curve. That’s probably Ed Frank’s bicycle in the lower right hand corner.

It is not often that individual employees can be identified in an old photo such as this, which shows CA&E express freight car #5 (presumably, the second #5, built by Cincinnati Car Company). But the man at left is Clyde Goodrich, a longtime engineer on the interurban. As far as I know, he was still employed there up to the final 1959 abandonment of service.

It is not often that individual employees can be identified in an old photo such as this, which shows CA&E express freight car #5 (presumably, the second #5, built by Cincinnati Car Company). But the man at left is Clyde Goodrich, a longtime engineer on the interurban. As far as I know, he was still employed there up to the final 1959 abandonment of service.

Clyde B. Goodrich, the man in the left, was born in DeKalb, Illinois on May 17, 1887 and died in Florida on September 1, 1970. His wife's name was Winifred (1882-1955). In 1920, Clyde lived in Aurora and was employed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In the 1940 census, he was living in Wheaton and worked as an engineer on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Clyde B. Goodrich and his wife are buried in Wheaton Cemetery.

Clyde B. Goodrich, the man in the left, was born in DeKalb, Illinois on May 17, 1887 and died in Florida on September 1, 1970. His wife’s name was Winifred (1882-1955). In 1920, Clyde lived in Aurora and was employed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In the 1940 census, he was living in Wheaton and worked as an engineer on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. Clyde B. Goodrich and his wife are buried in Wheaton Cemetery.

The caption here reads, "North Western and electric lines stations, Wheaton." The CA&E is in the foreground. The photo is not dated, but it must be quite early.

The caption here reads, “North Western and electric lines stations, Wheaton.” The CA&E is in the foreground. The photo is not dated, but it must be quite early.

This photo, dated May 1966, shows the CA&E's Wheaton station being torn down.

This photo, dated May 1966, shows the CA&E’s Wheaton station being torn down.

Demolition is nearly complete in this photo, also dated May 1966.

Demolition is nearly complete in this photo, also dated May 1966.

CA&E wooden interurban car 54. Don's Rail Photos: "54 was built by Stephonsin in 1903. It was modernized in July 1946 and retired in 1959."

CA&E wooden interurban car 54. Don’s Rail Photos: “54 was built by Stephonsin in 1903. It was modernized in July 1946 and retired in 1959.”

CA&E wooden freight motor 9. Don's Rail Photos: "9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959."

CA&E wooden freight motor 9. Don’s Rail Photos: “9 was built by Niles Car in 1907. It was scrapped in 1959.”

A crane on a CA&E flat car. This appears to be Wheaton Yard.

A crane on a CA&E flat car. This appears to be Wheaton Yard.

North Shore Line car 182 is southbound on the Shore Line Route in North Chicago, Illinois on June 12, 1954. Don's Rail Photos: "182 was built by Cincinnati Car in September 1920, #2455." (Robert Selle Photo)

North Shore Line car 182 is southbound on the Shore Line Route in North Chicago, Illinois on June 12, 1954. Don’s Rail Photos: “182 was built by Cincinnati Car in September 1920, #2455.” (Robert Selle Photo)

While Chicago's Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower) is rightly considered its first, Lake Shore Drive preceded it as an "almost" expressway. Here. we see construction taking place on December 13, 1940. Until the early 1970s, LSD had lanes that could be reversed in rush hour by raising and lowering these short barriers. Unfortunately, this resulted in a number of head-on collisions, and these were eventually deactivated. The photo caption reads, "Workmen install line of elevating curbs in new express highway on Chicago's lake front. The curbs, placed two lanes apart on the eight lane roadway, give extra lanes to rush hour traffic to ease traffic flow. The elevating jacks shown raise the curb to height of nine inches, exert pressure of 12 tons. The retracting springs, having a 10-ton pressure, pull the curbs down when the hydraulic jacks are released. The entire curb system is operated from one central control station." (Photo by Acme)

While Chicago’s Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower) is rightly considered its first, Lake Shore Drive preceded it as an “almost” expressway. Here. we see construction taking place on December 13, 1940. Until the early 1970s, LSD had lanes that could be reversed in rush hour by raising and lowering these short barriers. Unfortunately, this resulted in a number of head-on collisions, and these were eventually deactivated. The photo caption reads, “Workmen install line of elevating curbs in new express highway on Chicago’s lake front. The curbs, placed two lanes apart on the eight lane roadway, give extra lanes to rush hour traffic to ease traffic flow. The elevating jacks shown raise the curb to height of nine inches, exert pressure of 12 tons. The retracting springs, having a 10-ton pressure, pull the curbs down when the hydraulic jacks are released. The entire curb system is operated from one central control station.” (Photo by Acme)

Chicago’s Loop in 1959

The following ten images are part of a larger batch we recently purchased. Several of the others show various downtown movie theaters (including the Clark and Garrick) and will be posted in the near future on our “sister” Clark Theater blog. By studying the various films that were playing, I have determined these pictures were taken during the summer of 1959.

Here's a rather unique view showing the front of the old Wells Street Terminal, or what was left of it anyway, as it appeared in 1959. This terminal was last used by the CA&E in 1953. Two years later, the upper portion of the attractive facade was removed and a new track connection was built so that Garfield Park trains could connect to the Loop "L". A new connection was needed, since the old one had to give way to construction on Wacker Drive. The remainder of the terminal, and the track connection, were no longer needed after the Congress rapid transit line replaced the Garfield Park "L" in 1958, and they were removed in 1964. Note there is a barber shop occupying part of the building.

Here’s a rather unique view showing the front of the old Wells Street Terminal, or what was left of it anyway, as it appeared in 1959. This terminal was last used by the CA&E in 1953. Two years later, the upper portion of the attractive facade was removed and a new track connection was built so that Garfield Park trains could connect to the Loop “L”. A new connection was needed, since the old one had to give way to construction on Wacker Drive. The remainder of the terminal, and the track connection, were no longer needed after the Congress rapid transit line replaced the Garfield Park “L” in 1958, and they were removed in 1964. Note there is a barber shop occupying part of the building.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s, running on the Lake Street "L", are at Wabash and Van Buren on the Loop. In the background, you can see the Auditorium Theater building.

A two-car train of CTA 4000s, running on the Lake Street “L”, are at Wabash and Van Buren on the Loop. In the background, you can see the Auditorium Theater building.

The old Epicurean restaurant, at left, was located at 316 S. Wabash and served Hugarian cuisine. A CTA Lake Street train rumbles by above.

The old Epicurean restaurant, at left, was located at 316 S. Wabash and served Hugarian cuisine. A CTA Lake Street train rumbles by above.

A street sign is just barely visible in this photo taken under the Loop "L", identifying the cross street as Dearborn. Since that is one way southbound downtown, and the arrow is pointing to the right, that implies we are in Lake Street and are looking to the east.

A street sign is just barely visible in this photo taken under the Loop “L”, identifying the cross street as Dearborn. Since that is one way southbound downtown, and the arrow is pointing to the right, that implies we are in Lake Street and are looking to the east.

The old Metropolitan "L" crossed the Chicago River just south of Union Station (just visible at left) and had four tracks, necessitating two bridges. After these tracks were taken out of service in June 1958, the bridges were permanently raised, and razed in 1964.

The old Metropolitan “L” crossed the Chicago River just south of Union Station (just visible at left) and had four tracks, necessitating two bridges. After these tracks were taken out of service in June 1958, the bridges were permanently raised, and razed in 1964.

Another view of the same two Met "L" bridges in 1959.

Another view of the same two Met “L” bridges in 1959.

Another photo of the two Met "L" bridges.

Another photo of the two Met “L” bridges.

It's not clear where this picture was taken. The two wires that cross the trolley bus wires are, I am told, "feeder span hangers." The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973. The CTA currently has two electric buses that run on batteries, and has just placed an order for 20 more.

It’s not clear where this picture was taken. The two wires that cross the trolley bus wires are, I am told, “feeder span hangers.” The last Chicago trolley bus ran in 1973. The CTA currently has two electric buses that run on batteries, and has just placed an order for 20 more.

Another view of the Loop "L" on south Wabash, probably taken near the locations if the other similar photos showing Lake Street trains.

Another view of the Loop “L” on south Wabash, probably taken near the locations if the other similar photos showing Lake Street trains.

This photo shows what State Street, that great street, looked like during the summer of 1959. We are looking north from about 400 S. State. The Goldblatt's department store is at right, and that's a CTA #36 bus heading south. Streetcar tracks on State have either been removed, or paved over. Note the "grasshopper" style street lights that were installed in 1959.

This photo shows what State Street, that great street, looked like during the summer of 1959. We are looking north from about 400 S. State. The Goldblatt’s department store is at right, and that’s a CTA #36 bus heading south. Streetcar tracks on State have either been removed, or paved over. Note the “grasshopper” style street lights that were installed in 1959.

FYI, here is another view from the same location, taken after streetcar tracks were removed, but before the 1959 installation of those unique street lights:

(See attribution information for this photo via the link provided above.)

Miscellaneous New Finds

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee's ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee's Last Rapid Transit?, "The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run." Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban's right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don's Rail Photos: "66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952." (Photo by George Harris)

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee’s ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?, “The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run.” Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban’s right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don’s Rail Photos: “66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952.” (Photo by George Harris)

Early Kodachrome images such as this are rare. Here, we see a San Francisco cable car (signed for Powell and Mason) in operation during the summer of 1945. When this picture was taken, the war in Europe had ended, but the US was still fighting Japan. According to the Cable Car Museum web site, this car is currently in service as #3: "Built by the Carter Bros. of Newark, California during 1893-1894 for the Market Street Railway's Sacramento-Clay cable car line. The United Railroads transferred it to the Powell Street cable car lines in 1907, after the Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Until 1973, numbered as No. 503. No. 3 is painted in Muni's green and cream paint scheme, which is based on the green and white scheme of the Muni's former rival between 1921-1944, the Market Street Railway. This was the basic paint scheme for Powell Street cable cars from 1947 to 1982. Extensive rebuilding, by Muni 1955."

Early Kodachrome images such as this are rare. Here, we see a San Francisco cable car (signed for Powell and Mason) in operation during the summer of 1945. When this picture was taken, the war in Europe had ended, but the US was still fighting Japan. According to the Cable Car Museum web site, this car is currently in service as #3: “Built by the Carter Bros. of Newark, California during 1893-1894 for the Market Street Railway’s Sacramento-Clay cable car line. The United Railroads transferred it to the Powell Street cable car lines in 1907, after the Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Until 1973, numbered as No. 503. No. 3 is painted in Muni’s green and cream paint scheme, which is based on the green and white scheme of the Muni’s former rival between 1921-1944, the Market Street Railway. This was the basic paint scheme for Powell Street cable cars from 1947 to 1982. Extensive rebuilding, by Muni 1955.”

PTC "Peter Witt" 8057 was built by Brill in 1923. Here it is seen on Route 34 in the 1950s. Michael T. Greene writes: "The picture of the Route 34 Peter Witt was taken at 38th and Locust Streets, on what’s now the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. (An alum now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, in Washington, but enough of that!). The trolley is using detour trackage onto Locust Street EB, as part of the subway-surface extension of the 1950’s…westbound trackage continued on Locust to 40th Street, where it hung a left turn. Today, 38th Street has been widened to a 2-way street, but still with a trolley track, used as a diversion route for subway-surface Routes 11, 13, 34, and 36. Locust Street was been turned into a pedestrian walkway, and a pedestrian bridge goes over 38th Street these days."

PTC “Peter Witt” 8057 was built by Brill in 1923. Here it is seen on Route 34 in the 1950s. Michael T. Greene writes: “The picture of the Route 34 Peter Witt was taken at 38th and Locust Streets, on what’s now the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. (An alum now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, in Washington, but enough of that!). The trolley is using detour trackage onto Locust Street EB, as part of the subway-surface extension of the 1950’s…westbound trackage continued on Locust to 40th Street, where it hung a left turn. Today, 38th Street has been widened to a 2-way street, but still with a trolley track, used as a diversion route for subway-surface Routes 11, 13, 34, and 36. Locust Street was been turned into a pedestrian walkway, and a pedestrian bridge goes over 38th Street these days.”

Philadelphia Transportation Company 7266 is on Route 9, sometime in the 1950s during street construction. Micheal T. Greene writes: "The Route 9 car is on 5th Street south of Market Street. At this time, 5th Street was being widened as part of Independence Mall. Independence Hall is out of this picture to the right."

Philadelphia Transportation Company 7266 is on Route 9, sometime in the 1950s during street construction. Micheal T. Greene writes: “The Route 9 car is on 5th Street south of Market Street. At this time, 5th Street was being widened as part of Independence Mall. Independence Hall is out of this picture to the right.”

Indianapolis Railways "Peter Witt" car 181, also known as a "Master Unit," a Brill trademark, is signed for College-Broad Ripple on April 16, 1952. This car was built in March 1934 and was one of the last streetcar orders filled before the PCC era. (Robert Selle Photo)

Indianapolis Railways “Peter Witt” car 181, also known as a “Master Unit,” a Brill trademark, is signed for College-Broad Ripple on April 16, 1952. This car was built in March 1934 and was one of the last streetcar orders filled before the PCC era. (Robert Selle Photo)

Indianapolis Railways 155 was built by Brill in September 1933. On May 21, 1950 it is at the east end of the Washington Street line on a fantrip.

Indianapolis Railways 155 was built by Brill in September 1933. On May 21, 1950 it is at the east end of the Washington Street line on a fantrip.

On August23, 1946, photographer Walter Hulseweder snapped this picture of Indianapolis Railways 131 on Washington Street at Illinois Avenue on the Washington-Sheridan line.

On August23, 1946, photographer Walter Hulseweder snapped this picture of Indianapolis Railways 131 on Washington Street at Illinois Avenue on the Washington-Sheridan line.

By strange coincidence, this photo showing a Rock Island Motor Transit Company bus was taken in June 21, 1958. Bill shapotkin adds, "The photo was taken at the joint CGW/Greyhound/Jefferson bus station in Rochester, MN. This bus provided connections from/to ROCK trains at Owatonna, MN." (William Shapotkin Collection)

By strange coincidence, this photo showing a Rock Island Motor Transit Company bus was taken in June 21, 1958. Bill shapotkin adds, “The photo was taken at the joint CGW/Greyhound/Jefferson bus station in Rochester, MN. This bus provided connections from/to ROCK trains at Owatonna, MN.” (William Shapotkin Collection)

Mystery Photo

This picture, which could be as old as the 1930s, was listed by the seller as being Chicago. However, I have my doubts, as I am unable to think of a location this could be around here, or what the construction project might be. The sign says "Detour to temporary bridge." Jeff Wien thinks this might be Philadelphia.

This picture, which could be as old as the 1930s, was listed by the seller as being Chicago. However, I have my doubts, as I am unable to think of a location this could be around here, or what the construction project might be. The sign says “Detour to temporary bridge.” Jeff Wien thinks this might be Philadelphia.

Updates

We’ve added another image to our previous post The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7. 2017), which includes an extensive section about the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, New Jersey:

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 36 at Warehouse Point, Connecticut on August 16, 1952.

These photos were added to our previous post Red Arrow in West Chester (September 13, 2016):

A SEPTA commuter train, ex-PRR, at West Chester in May 1979. SEPTA rail service to this station ended in 1986, but the West Chester Railroad began running a not-for-profit tourist operation of train service on weekends between West Chester and Glen Mills in 1997. (Photo by Paul Kutta)

A SEPTA commuter train, ex-PRR, at West Chester in May 1979. SEPTA rail service to this station ended in 1986, but the West Chester Railroad began running a not-for-profit tourist operation of train service on weekends between West Chester and Glen Mills in 1997. (Photo by Paul Kutta)

Red Arrow "Master Unit" 79 is inbound in 1949 on either the Media or Sharon Hill line, in spite of the sign saying Ardmore (thanks to Kenneth Achtert for that correction). He adds, "It was (still is) standard practice for Red Arrow operators, when changing ends at the outer end of their route, to set the sign on what would be the rear of the car for the inbound trip to read their next outbound destination. Thus, when the car arrived at 69th St. Terminal and went around the loop to the boarding platform the rear destination sign was already set. This was actually the more important sign, as most passengers approached the cars from the rear coming from the main terminal (and from the Market-Frankford Elevated line)." (Mark D. Meyer Photo)

Red Arrow “Master Unit” 79 is inbound in 1949 on either the Media or Sharon Hill line, in spite of the sign saying Ardmore (thanks to Kenneth Achtert for that correction). He adds, “It was (still is) standard practice for Red Arrow operators, when changing ends at the outer end of their route, to set the sign on what would be the rear of the car for the inbound trip to read their next outbound destination. Thus, when the car arrived at 69th St. Terminal and went around the loop to the boarding platform the rear destination sign was already set. This was actually the more important sign, as most passengers approached the cars from the rear coming from the main terminal (and from the Market-Frankford Elevated line).” (Mark D. Meyer Photo)

Red Arrow "Master Unit" 82 is at the 69th Street Terminal on August 8, 1948. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Red Arrow “Master Unit” 82 is at the 69th Street Terminal on August 8, 1948. (Walter Broschart Photo)

On September 12, 1959, Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 3, a 1941 "Brilliner," is on Lippincott Avenue north of County Line Road, on the short Ardmore line which was bussed in 1966.

On September 12, 1959, Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 3, a 1941 “Brilliner,” is on Lippincott Avenue north of County Line Road, on the short Ardmore line which was bussed in 1966.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka "Red Arrow") cars 5 and 14 pose at 69th Street Terminal on June 22, 1963. The car at left is a Brilliner, from the last batch of trolleys built by Brill in 1941. The car at right was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 949. Although it looks much like a PCC, it was not considered such as it had standard interurban trucks and motors. Both types of cars were double-ended.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka “Red Arrow”) cars 5 and 14 pose at 69th Street Terminal on June 22, 1963. The car at left is a Brilliner, from the last batch of trolleys built by Brill in 1941. The car at right was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 949. Although it looks much like a PCC, it was not considered such as it had standard interurban trucks and motors. Both types of cars were double-ended.

We’ve added this image to our extensive section about the Fort Collins (Colorado) Birney car operation in Our 150th Post (August 6, 2016):

Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 22 in the city park on April 30, 1947.

Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney car 22 in the city park on April 30, 1947.

Recent Correspondence

Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes:

Your latest post has a bunch of good stuff.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/proofs116.jpg
Interesting that you think this picture might be of your mother and you. In the book “In Search of Steam” by Joe Collias (which I do not have), there is a picture taken at Englewood Union Station of a young boy, bundled in winter clothing, watching a New York Central steam engine come into the station. I’d swear that young boy is me.

The movie of the last PCC streetcar almost made me cry. My last ride on a Chicago streetcar occurred in early June when my high-school best friend and I rode one car from 81st and Halsted to 63rd and Wentworth, then another car ack to 81st and Halsted. Also: Probably less than a week after the last streetcar ran, I graduated high school. So this time frame is especially meaningful to me. (Please don’t publish this, it’s just for your information.)

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/proofs123.jpg
In this photo, did you notice the swell “woodie” station wagon?

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Your text beneath this picture fascinates me. You say your parents frequented the Curtis restaurant at 63rd and Ashland. Does that mean you grew up around there? I grew up a mile east of this junction.

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The text under this picture says the South Shops was at 78th and Wentworth. Not so. South Shops was at 77th and Vincennes on the east side of Vincennes. And the land it occupied was huge — from 77th and Vincennes east to about Perry (a block west of State St.) and south to 79th. I haven’t been there in a long time, but maybe the CTA still has all that land.

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I’d have to agree that this car is on 71st St. west of Western. Because you say 7053 S. Maplewood is at the left, I contend the streetcar is heading west to 71st and California. One small nit: The caption says “Bill Hoffmann lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood.” Unless there was an extra-long block between 66th and
67th (Marquette Blvd.) on Maplewood, the address would have to be 6654. Normally there are 60 addresses to a block, from 00 to 59.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/proofs160.jpg
This is an interesting picture. As the caption indicates, the car had just left the west end of its line. That west end was west of Halsted between two buildings. It was a dead end, providing only a switch from westbound to eastbound track. Also: You previously published a photo taken here, on Halsted St. south of Root, looking north. In that photo was a 44 Wallace-Racine car turning from west on Root to south on Halsted. (In this current photo you can see the trackage for this turn.) Also in that previous photo was the Halsted St. station of the Stock Yards L.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/proofs160.jpg
This is your mystery photo. I agree that this can’t be a Chicago
scene, for the reason that I know of no elevated trackage in Chicago that was so low to the ground. Also, the elevated train does not look like any Chicago L train I remember.

M E

Thanks very much for your interesting observations!

I don’t think that the woman and boy actually are me, but they certainly resemble us in 1958. My mother dressed like that all the time, and the kid is about my age.

We lived on the west side, in Mont Clare. My mother’s parents lived in Englewood and that’s where she was living when my parents met. So naturally, they frequented restaurants in the neighborhood.

63rd and Ashland was bustling back then.

The June 18, 1958 Southtown Economist gives Dorothy Hoffman’s address as 6622 S. Maplewood.  I believe Bill Hoffman lived with his sister, so perhaps that is the correct address.

If you think 63rd and Ashland was busy, you should have seen 63rd and Halsted, which was the heart of Englewood. Somewhere I once read that 63rd and Halsted was the busiest commercial district in Chicago outside the Loop. It was a great place to grow up because there were three streetcar lines (8, 42, 63), the Englewood L (which I could see from our building), and railroad stations east on 63rd at Wallace and La Salle.

Good point! People tend to forget these things, as certain areas of the city became depopulated to some extent, and urban renewal leveled entire blocks.

We’ll let Jeff Wien have the last word:

Streetcars, streetcars, streetcars. They seem to be popping up all over the country. And who would have thought 60 years ago that there would be such a renaissance! I was called a trolley jolly because I favored streetcars. The Millenials like them.

Pre-Order Building Chicago’s Subways

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages

Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960

Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

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A Shoebox Full of Dreams

A two-car train of PCCs near North Station in Boston August 31, 1976. The nearby Boston Garden has since been torn down and rebuilt.

A two-car train of PCCs near North Station in Boston August 31, 1976. The nearby Boston Garden has since been torn down and rebuilt.

One of my brothers called me recently from a garage sale, and asked if I had any interest in a shoebox full of train pictures. The cost was just $10. I figured it would have to be worth at least that much, so I said sure.

I went through the box when I got it, and discovered most of the pictures were faded color snapshots from the 1970s, probably taken with a Kodak Instamatic camera on size 126 film. Worse yet, nearly all the pictures have a textured surface.

However, it sure seems the photographer got around. He visited train museums all over the country. He went on steam train excursions. He took pictures of streetcars.

Eventually, I figured out who he was– Marvin C. Kruse.

Although, in looking up information on Mr. Kruse, I somehow got the mistaken idea he was deceased, his son wrote to me (see the Comments section below) and informs us that he is alive and well, aged 96! In fact, he has seen this post and enjoyed it. Nothing could make me happier.

When someone dies, or has to downsize, it is often up to their loved ones to go through their things and decide what to do with them. This can be a very traumatic process, for you feel as if you are dismantling someone’s life, piece by piece. And yet that is the way of the world, for life goes on. People’s belongings are often scattered to the four winds.

I decided to give an extra special effort to restore some of Mr. Kruse’s photos for the railfan community, to honor his efforts, and the sacrifices he made. I hope you like the results. They are mementos of someone’s life, from someone who should not be so easily forgotten.

-David Sadowski

PS- By the time you read this, we will have received a substantial shipment of our new book Chicago Trolleys (see below). It should only take us a short time to mail out books to all who have pre-ordered them, plus complementary copies for important contributors. We thank you all for your support. The book was completed on time and is now available for immediate shipment.

Picture caption: "1947 snow (2 ft.). This taken off Monongahela tracks just below our house. B&O yards across river."

Picture caption: “1947 snow (2 ft.). This taken off Monongahela tracks just below our house. B&O yards across river.”

Winter 1947-48. "Same as other, only vertical. Big building, left foreground, is Interstate Construction & Engineers... build coal tipples."

Winter 1947-48. “Same as other, only vertical. Big building, left foreground, is Interstate Construction & Engineers… build coal tipples.”

Photo caption: "New Have R. R. diesel passing Providence, RI engine house 12/21/47 with New York-bound train."

Photo caption: “New Have R. R. diesel passing Providence, RI engine house 12/21/47 with New York-bound train.”

A photo stop on a steam excursion, May 1961.

A photo stop on a steam excursion, May 1961.

South Shore Line "Little Joe" 801 in October 1960.

South Shore Line “Little Joe” 801 in October 1960.

South Shore Line electric locos 703 and 704 in October 1960.

South Shore Line electric locos 703 and 704 in October 1960.

This looks like Chicago Surface Lines red Pullman 144 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum (North Chicago) in June 1961.

This looks like Chicago Surface Lines red Pullman 144 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum (North Chicago) in June 1961.

Another scene from IERM in July 1961. At left is Milwaukee streetcar 966, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1927. At right is ex-CTA/CSL sweeper E223, which was purchased for the museum by Dick Lukin in 1956.

Another scene from IERM in July 1961. At left is Milwaukee streetcar 966, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1927. At right is ex-CTA/CSL sweeper E223, which was purchased for the museum by Dick Lukin in 1956.

Two 900-series South Shore Line freight locos in October 1960.

Two 900-series South Shore Line freight locos in October 1960.

Always remember...never step on any rails. Right? (Photo stop bedlam, September 1958.)

Always remember…never step on any rails. Right? (Photo stop bedlam, September 1958.)

If you've ever tried taking a picture at a photo stop on a fantrip, this is what happens. Invariably, someone runs right in front of you, oblivious to the fact you are trying to take a picture.

If you’ve ever tried taking a picture at a photo stop on a fantrip, this is what happens. Invariably, someone runs right in front of you, oblivious to the fact you are trying to take a picture.

People used to climb on just about anything, in their quest to take a picture.

People used to climb on just about anything, in their quest to take a picture.

This is the view from an engine cab... which makes sense, if you think about it, as the engine in front of you is massive.

This is the view from an engine cab… which makes sense, if you think about it, as the engine in front of you is massive.

I think what we are seeing here is new commuter rail bi-levels on display, probably the Milwaukee Road, in July 1961. The sign at left says, "Entrance," implying that they wanted you to walk through the cars in one direction only. At right are some vehicles from the Railway Express Agency (REA), which delivered small packages via the railway system between 1917 and the late 1960s. It was a national monopoly formed by the federal government during the First World War.

I think what we are seeing here is new commuter rail bi-levels on display, probably the Milwaukee Road, in July 1961. The sign at left says, “Entrance,” implying that they wanted you to walk through the cars in one direction only. At right are some vehicles from the Railway Express Agency (REA), which delivered small packages via the railway system between 1917 and the late 1960s. It was a national monopoly formed by the federal government during the First World War.

A Milwaukee Road commuter train in July 1961. This is about the time the railroad began introducing bi-levels, which the Chicago & North Western had been using for some years. I'd bet this is the same scene as in the previous picture, but from the other end. The train is on display at a station.

A Milwaukee Road commuter train in July 1961. This is about the time the railroad began introducing bi-levels, which the Chicago & North Western had been using for some years. I’d bet this is the same scene as in the previous picture, but from the other end. The train is on display at a station.

There wasn't much I could do about the scratches on this picture, but how often have you witnessed a steam locomotive on a turntable? (November 1958)

There wasn’t much I could do about the scratches on this picture, but how often have you witnessed a steam locomotive on a turntable? (November 1958)

Not sure of the location, but it's June 1958, and steam is still active here.

Not sure of the location, but it’s June 1958, and steam is still active here.

Several steam locos are on this property in June 1958, wherever it was.

Several steam locos are on this property in June 1958, wherever it was.

One thing about steam... as the song goes, smoke gets in your eyes. Note the small twin-lens reflex camera this shutterbug is holding. Perhaps a grey "Baby" Rolleiflex, which took size 127 film? (On the other hand, Carl Lantz thinks thinks he's holding a movie camera.)

One thing about steam… as the song goes, smoke gets in your eyes. Note the small twin-lens reflex camera this shutterbug is holding. Perhaps a grey “Baby” Rolleiflex, which took size 127 film? (On the other hand, Carl Lantz thinks thinks he’s holding a movie camera.)

More steam fantrip action.

More steam fantrip action.

There were many such excursions in the waning days of steam (late 1950s to early 1960s).

There were many such excursions in the waning days of steam (late 1950s to early 1960s).

Evidence of a Toronto trip in June 1959. This may be part of a PCC car.

Evidence of a Toronto trip in June 1959. This may be part of a PCC car.

The Mt. Washington Cog Railway still operates.

The Mt. Washington Cog Railway still operates.

CTA 6000s in Forest Park , December 22, 1976.

CTA 6000s in Forest Park , December 22, 1976.

The CTA DesPlaines Avenue yard in Forest Park, December 22, 1976. This was the 1959 configuration that was in use until the station was rebuilt circa 1980.

The CTA DesPlaines Avenue yard in Forest Park, December 22, 1976. This was the 1959 configuration that was in use until the station was rebuilt circa 1980.

CTA 6000s interior, December 22, 1976.

CTA 6000s interior, December 22, 1976.

Central City, Colorado, August 15, 1977.

Central City, Colorado, August 15, 1977.

What was a PCC doing in Golden, Colorado on July 8, 1976.

What was a PCC doing in Golden, Colorado on July 8, 1976.

My previous post did not mention the ill-fated Boston LRVs. But here is one of their SF Muni counterparts, being tested by the DOT at Pueblo on July 7, 1976.

My previous post did not mention the ill-fated Boston LRVs. But here is one of their SF Muni counterparts, being tested by the DOT at Pueblo on July 7, 1976.

North Shore Line car 160 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the mid-1970s.

North Shore Line car 160 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the mid-1970s.

Chicago red Pullman 144 at IRM, 1970s.

Chicago red Pullman 144 at IRM, 1970s.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 431 at IRM, August 8, 1976.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 431 at IRM, August 8, 1976.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

Chicago postwar PCC 4391 at IRM in September 1975.

San Francisco cable car 16(?) on May 27, 1974.

San Francisco cable car 16(?) on May 27, 1974.

Los Angeles streetcar 665 at Perris, California.

Los Angeles streetcar 665 at Perris, California.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM in September 1975.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

North Shore Line city streetcar 354 at IRM on August 8, 1976.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

SF cable car 4 on May 27, 1974.

BART on May 27, 1974.

BART on May 27, 1974.

When did they stop letting the passengers turn cable cars around in San Francisco? They were still doing it on May 27, 1974.

When did they stop letting the passengers turn cable cars around in San Francisco? They were still doing it on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

BART at Balboa Park on May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni trolley bus on Market Street, May 27, 1974. Looks like construction may already have been underway on the Muni Metro subway.

An SF Muni trolley bus on Market Street, May 27, 1974. Looks like construction may already have been underway on the Muni Metro subway.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

An SF Muni PCC on Market Street, May 27, 1974.

Don's Rail Photos: "717 was built by Brill Co in 1925. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1951 as 5167. It became LAMTA 1815 in 1958, It was retired and restored as717 at OERM in March 1960." Here, we see it at Orange Empire on May 31, 1974. Was it ever used in service with this color scheme?

Don’s Rail Photos: “717 was built by Brill Co in 1925. It was rebuilt in 1939 and rebuilt in 1951 as 5167. It became LAMTA 1815 in 1958, It was retired and restored as717 at OERM in March 1960.” Here, we see it at Orange Empire on May 31, 1974. Was it ever used in service with this color scheme?

I'm wondering if the streetcar at right is Key System 987. The steam loco is Western Pacific 334, a 2-8-2 built in 1929 by American Locomotive. We see both at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1972.

I’m wondering if the streetcar at right is Key System 987. The steam loco is Western Pacific 334, a 2-8-2 built in 1929 by American Locomotive. We see both at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1972.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

A Toronto Peter Witt at Trolleyville USA, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, on August 23, 1975.

I assume this is probably an ex-PE car at the Orange Empire Railway Museum on May 31, 1974.

I assume this is probably an ex-PE car at the Orange Empire Railway Museum on May 31, 1974.

A Los Angeles streetcar at OERM, Perris, California on July 6, 1976.

A Los Angeles streetcar at OERM, Perris, California on July 6, 1976.

Here, we see Brooklyn car 4573 at the Branford Trolley Museum. It was built by the Laconia Car Company in 1906 and was acquired by the museum on 1947. Here is how it looked on August 31, 1976.

Here, we see Brooklyn car 4573 at the Branford Trolley Museum. It was built by the Laconia Car Company in 1906 and was acquired by the museum on 1947. Here is how it looked on August 31, 1976.

Marvin C. Kruse on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on May 24, 1974.

Marvin C. Kruse on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on May 24, 1974.

Marvin C. Kruse at the Andrews Raiders Memorial in the Chattanooga Military Cemetery on October 23, 1907. According to Find-a-Grave: :"Memorial erected by the State of Ohio to the Andrews Raiders. In early April, 1862, a band of Union soldiers lead by civilian James Andrews infiltrated south from the Union lines near Shelbyville, Tennessee and met at Big Shanty, Georgia (near Marietta). On the morning of April 12, 1862, 20 of them (2 raiders never arrived and 2 others overslept and missed the adventure) stole the passenger train "The General" during its morning breakfast stop. With the farms and factories of Georgia supplying the Confederate Army fighting further west, the Raiders' mission was to burn the railroad bridges between Atlanta and Chattanooga, thus isolating the Confederate Armies from their supply sources and enabling the Union Army to seize Chattanooga. Due primarily to the persistency of William Fuller, conductor of the stolen train, and, secondarily to the rainy weather and unlucky miscoordination with the Union Army to the west, the Raiders failed. All 22 at Big Shanty that morning were captured. Eight, including James Andrews, were tried and hanged by the Confederate Army in Atlanta. In 1866, after the war, they were reburied in a semi-circle at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. On the imposing granite monument, erected in 1891, are the names of 22 of the raiders. The memorial is topped by a bronze likeness of the "General"." This story inspired the classic 1927 Buster Keaton film The General.

Marvin C. Kruse at the Andrews Raiders Memorial in the Chattanooga Military Cemetery on October 23, 1907. According to Find-a-Grave: :”Memorial erected by the State of Ohio to the Andrews Raiders. In early April, 1862, a band of Union soldiers lead by civilian James Andrews infiltrated south from the Union lines near Shelbyville, Tennessee and met at Big Shanty, Georgia (near Marietta). On the morning of April 12, 1862, 20 of them (2 raiders never arrived and 2 others overslept and missed the adventure) stole the passenger train “The General” during its morning breakfast stop. With the farms and factories of Georgia supplying the Confederate Army fighting further west, the Raiders’ mission was to burn the railroad bridges between Atlanta and Chattanooga, thus isolating the Confederate Armies from their supply sources and enabling the Union Army to seize Chattanooga. Due primarily to the persistency of William Fuller, conductor of the stolen train, and, secondarily to the rainy weather and unlucky miscoordination with the Union Army to the west, the Raiders failed. All 22 at Big Shanty that morning were captured. Eight, including James Andrews, were tried and hanged by the Confederate Army in Atlanta. In 1866, after the war, they were reburied in a semi-circle at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. On the imposing granite monument, erected in 1891, are the names of 22 of the raiders. The memorial is topped by a bronze likeness of the “General”.” This story inspired the classic 1927 Buster Keaton film The General.

Philadelphia PCC 2278, in bicentennial garb, on Route 53, September 2, 1976.

Philadelphia PCC 2278, in bicentennial garb, on Route 53, September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow cars at 69th Street Terminal on September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow cars at 69th Street Terminal on September 2, 1976.

An Amtrak GG-1 in Baltimore on August 31, 1977.

An Amtrak GG-1 in Baltimore on August 31, 1977.

This is not a very good picture, but it does show a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) on September 2, 1976.

This is not a very good picture, but it does show a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) on September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow car 13, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1949, as it looked on September 2, 1976.

SEPTA Red Arrow car 13, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1949, as it looked on September 2, 1976.

Red Arrow car 18, also built in 1949. These double-ended interurban cars closely resembled PCCs but did not use PCC trucks.

Red Arrow car 18, also built in 1949. These double-ended interurban cars closely resembled PCCs but did not use PCC trucks.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A PCC car at the Roanoke, Virginia Transportation Museum on August 27, 1975.

A PCC car at the Roanoke, Virginia Transportation Museum on August 27, 1975.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

J. G. Brill built car 249 for Oporto, Portugal in 1904 and features maximum traction trucks. It was retired in 1972 and is shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

J. G. Brill built car 249 for Oporto, Portugal in 1904 and features maximum traction trucks. It was retired in 1972 and is shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A Washington, D.C. subway car at the Rhode Island Avenue station on September 1, 1977.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

A PCC car at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke on August 27, 1975. This is DC Transit 1470, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

This is Sacramento Northern 62, a Birney car built in 1920 by American Car Company. We see it here at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

This is Sacramento Northern 62, a Birney car built in 1920 by American Car Company. We see it here at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

San Francisco Municipal Railway "Magic Carpet" carr 1003 was one of five experimental double-end cars built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company. This lone survivor is seen at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

San Francisco Municipal Railway “Magic Carpet” carr 1003 was one of five experimental double-end cars built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company. This lone survivor is seen at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

At left, we see Muni car 178, and next to it is "Magic Carpet" car 1003, at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

At left, we see Muni car 178, and next to it is “Magic Carpet” car 1003, at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974.

This open car was built by Brill in 1912 and was used in Rio De Janeiro. It's shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

This open car was built by Brill in 1912 and was used in Rio De Janeiro. It’s shown at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on August 24, 1975.

This looks like a Sacramento Northern electric freight loco (Western Railway Museum, May 26, 1974).

This looks like a Sacramento Northern electric freight loco (Western Railway Museum, May 26, 1974).

This San Francisco cable car was on display at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on May 26, 1973. Many children played on this car over the years. It was originally a California Street car using a side grip and was not updated when Muni took over the line. I read that in 2005 it was in storage, listed as being in poor condition with a broken frame. I am not sure if it still exists.

This San Francisco cable car was on display at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on May 26, 1973. Many children played on this car over the years. It was originally a California Street car using a side grip and was not updated when Muni took over the line. I read that in 2005 it was in storage, listed as being in poor condition with a broken frame. I am not sure if it still exists.

This equipment is at the Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park in Los Angeles on August 26, 1977.

This equipment is at the Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park in Los Angeles on August 26, 1977.

A Los Angeles streetcar and a Pacific electric "Blimp" interurban at Griffith Park on July 5, 1977.

A Los Angeles streetcar and a Pacific electric “Blimp” interurban at Griffith Park on July 5, 1977.

In the distance, we see a pair of Key System bridge units at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974. These ran in Oakland over the bay Bridge, and were retired in 1958.

In the distance, we see a pair of Key System bridge units at the Western Railway Museum on May 26, 1974. These ran in Oakland over the bay Bridge, and were retired in 1958.

Toronto PCC 4394 on October 25, 1973.

Toronto PCC 4394 on October 25, 1973.

North Shore Line car 757 at East Troy, Wisconsin on June 23, 1974. This car has since gone to the Illinois Railway Museum.

North Shore Line car 757 at East Troy, Wisconsin on June 23, 1974. This car has since gone to the Illinois Railway Museum.

The East Troy Trolley Museum, June 23, 1974.

The East Troy Trolley Museum, June 23, 1974.

A Chicago Transit Authority 4000-series "L" car in Louisville, Kentucky on June 3, 1974.

A Chicago Transit Authority 4000-series “L” car in Louisville, Kentucky on June 3, 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 2, 1974.

Chattanooga, Tennessee on June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A New Orleans streetcar at Union Station in Chattanooga, June 2, 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

A pair of 700-series South Shore Line freight locos at the Gary, Indiana station in 1974.

Steam at Union, Illinois, August 8, 1976.

Steam at Union, Illinois, August 8, 1976.

The Burlington Zephyr at IRM, 1976.

The Burlington Zephyr at IRM, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

South Shore Line cars in storage at Michigan City, Indiana on July 17, 1977.

South Shore Line cars in storage at Michigan City, Indiana on July 17, 1977.

A "Little Joe" in Michigan City, July 17, 1977.

A “Little Joe” in Michigan City, July 17, 1977.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, July 1977.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, July 1977.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, June 23, 1974.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, June 23, 1974.

Illinois Terminal cars at IRM, June 23, 1974.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, September 1975.

IRM, September 1975.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, August 8, 1976.

IRM, September 1975.

IRM, September 1975.

Recent Finds

Boston MTA 3292, signed for Braves Field, is on a double-track loop with the ball park at the right. The Boston Braves played there last game here on September 21, 1952 (exactly 65 years ago today), after which the team was moved to Milwaukee. Following the 1965 season, they became the Atlanta Braves. A portion of Braves Field still exists as part of Boston College's Nickerson Field. We discussed streetcar service to Braves Field in our previous post More Mystery Photos (July 29, 2016).

Boston MTA 3292, signed for Braves Field, is on a double-track loop with the ball park at the right. The Boston Braves played there last game here on September 21, 1952 (exactly 65 years ago today), after which the team was moved to Milwaukee. Following the 1965 season, they became the Atlanta Braves. A portion of Braves Field still exists as part of Boston College’s Nickerson Field. We discussed streetcar service to Braves Field in our previous post More Mystery Photos (July 29, 2016).

Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago car 67 was built by American Car in 1917 and was converted to one-man operation in 1932. Streetcar service ended in 1940. Notice how similar this car is to some operated by the Chicago Surface Lines. For much of its history, the HW&EC was run by the Calumet & South Chicago Railway, which became part of CSL in 1914.

Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago car 67 was built by American Car in 1917 and was converted to one-man operation in 1932. Streetcar service ended in 1940. Notice how similar this car is to some operated by the Chicago Surface Lines. For much of its history, the HW&EC was run by the Calumet & South Chicago Railway, which became part of CSL in 1914.

Chicago Surface Lines crane X-3 at Dearborn and Washington in 1942. Tracks were being put back in the street after construction of the Dearborn Subway, which was 80% completed when work stopped due to wartime materials shortages. The subway did not open until 1951.

Chicago Surface Lines crane X-3 at Dearborn and Washington in 1942. Tracks were being put back in the street after construction of the Dearborn Subway, which was 80% completed when work stopped due to wartime materials shortages. The subway did not open until 1951.

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway "Birney" car 363 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. Streetcar service was abandoned on December 11th of that year. This car was formerly Penn-Ohio Power & Light 363 and was painted orange. (John A. Clark Photo)

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway “Birney” car 363 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. Streetcar service was abandoned on December 11th of that year. This car was formerly Penn-Ohio Power & Light 363 and was painted orange. (John A. Clark Photo)

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway "Birney" car 359 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. This car was ex=Penn-Ohio Power and Light 359, and was painted orange and cream. (John A. Clark Photo)

New Castle (Pennsylvania) Electric Street Railway “Birney” car 359 at Cascade Park loop on August 24, 1941. This car was ex=Penn-Ohio Power and Light 359, and was painted orange and cream. (John A. Clark Photo)

This odd, boxy streetcar is Black River Traction car #1 in Watertown, New York. This was a 1906 product of the Barber Car Co. Some consider this an ugly design, but apparently these cars were well-built. Apparently this line abandoned streetcar service on August 17, 1937, but this negative is dated June 20, 1938. The sign on the side of the car doesn't really solve this mystery-- there were two championship heavyweight bouts between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, and these took place on June 19, 1936 and June 22, 1938. For more information on the Barber Car Company, click here.

This odd, boxy streetcar is Black River Traction car #1 in Watertown, New York. This was a 1906 product of the Barber Car Co. Some consider this an ugly design, but apparently these cars were well-built. Apparently this line abandoned streetcar service on August 17, 1937, but this negative is dated June 20, 1938. The sign on the side of the car doesn’t really solve this mystery– there were two championship heavyweight bouts between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, and these took place on June 19, 1936 and June 22, 1938. For more information on the Barber Car Company, click here.

Black River Traction car 5, with a date given of June 20, 1938. Not sure whether this car was also built by the Barber Car Company.

Black River Traction car 5, with a date given of June 20, 1938. Not sure whether this car was also built by the Barber Car Company.

Recent Correspondence

Jack Bejna writes:

I recently came across this photo, and, after looking at it awhile I realized that this is an image of the CA&E crossing the Chicago River. It appears to have been taken from Franklin Street looking generally northeast. The train appears to be an eastbound train just entering the Wells Street Terminal. Look at the two cars and you’ll see Car 436 leading trailer 603. In addition, below the El structure there is the substation that provided the power for the terminal area. The picture was taken in 1939.

Jack continues:

I enjoyed your latest post about Boston’s great trolleys. Keep up the great work.

Here is the latest stuff, the CA&E and the CNS&M woodies. As usual, some of the images aren’t the best, but it’s all I could find in my continuing search for the best of the CA&E!

Increasing suburban traffic found the CA&E short of cars. In 1936, the CNS&M came to the rescue by making some of their older wooden cars available for lease.

In 1936, cars 129, 130, 133, 134, 137 (Jewett 1907), cars 138, 139, 140, 141, 144 (American 1910) and cars 142 and 143 (Jewett 1907) were leased for suburban service and returned to the CNS&M after World War II. These cars were later purchased in 1946 and finished their long careers in suburban work on the CA&E.

I know our readers appreciate your efforts in restoring and sharing these rare pictures with us. Thanks to you, they are looking better than ever.

After CA&E service was cut back to Forest Park in 1953, these cars were no longer needed and were soon scrapped. Interestingly, these old woods were the last passenger cars bought by the Aurora & Elgin.

CA&E 129.

CA&E 129.

CA&E 130.

CA&E 130.

CA&E 133.

CA&E 133.

CA&E 134.

CA&E 134.

CA&E 137.

CA&E 137.

CA&E 138.

CA&E 138.

CA&E 139.

CA&E 139.

CA&E 140.

CA&E 140.

CA&E 141 at Batavia Junction.

CA&E 141 at Batavia Junction.

CA&E 142 at the Wheaton Shops.

CA&E 142 at the Wheaton Shops.

CA&E 143.

CA&E 143.

CA&E 144.

CA&E 144.

Our New Book Chicago Trolleys— Now In Stock!

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago Trolleys will be released on September 25th by Arcadia Publishing. You can pre-order an autographed copy through us today (see below). Chicago Trolleys will also be available wherever Arcadia books are sold.

Overview

Chicago’s extensive transit system first started in 1859, when horsecars ran on rails in city streets. Cable cars and electric streetcars came next. Where new trolley car lines were built, people, businesses, and neighborhoods followed. Chicago quickly became a world-class city. At its peak, Chicago had over 3,000 streetcars and 1,000 miles of track—the largest such system in the world. By the 1930s, there were also streamlined trolleys and trolley buses on rubber tires. Some parts of Chicago’s famous “L” system also used trolley wire instead of a third rail. Trolley cars once took people from the Loop to such faraway places as Aurora, Elgin, Milwaukee, and South Bend. A few still run today.

The book features 226 classic black-and-white images, each with detailed captions, in 10 chapters:

1. Early Traction
2. Consolidation and Growth
3. Trolleys to the Suburbs
4. Trolleys on the “L”
5. Interurbans Under Wire
6. The Streamlined Era
7. The War Years
8. Unification and Change
9. Trolley Buses
10. Preserving History

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467126816
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 09/25/2017
Series: Images of Rail
Pages: 128

Meet the Author

David Sadowski has been interested in streetcars ever since his father took him for a ride on one of the last remaining lines in 1958. He grew up riding trolley buses and “L” trains all over Chicago. He coauthored Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936–1958, and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog. Come along for the ride as we travel from one side of the city to the other and see how trolley cars and buses moved Chicago’s millions of hardworking, diverse people.

Images of Rail

The Images of Rail series celebrates the history of rail, trolley, streetcar, and subway transportation across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the people, places, and events that helped revolutionize transportation and commerce in 19th- and 20th-century America. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

The book costs just $21.99 plus shipping.

Please note that Illinois residents must pay 10.00% sales tax on their purchases.

We appreciate your business!

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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NEW – Chicago Trolleys Postcard Collection

We are pleased to report that selected images from our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys will be available on September 25th in a pack of 15 postcards, all for just $7.99. This is part of a series put out by Arcadia Publishing. Dimensions: 6″ wide x 4.25″ tall

The Postcards of America Series

Here in the 21st century, when everyone who’s anyone seems to do most of their communicating via Facebook and Twitter, it’s only natural to wax a little nostalgic when it comes to days gone by. What happened to more personal means of communication like hand-written letters on nice stationery? Why don’t people still send postcards when they move someplace new or go away on vacation?

If that line of thinking sounds familiar, then Arcadia Publishing’s Postcards of America was launched with you in mind. Each beautiful volume features a different collection of real vintage postcards that you can mail to your friends and family.

Pre-Order your Chicago Trolleys Postcard Pack today!

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Guy Wicksall and His Films

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

You probably have not ever heard of Guy J. Wicksall before, but he has been shooting movies of trains for a long time now. He recently had some of his rare 16mm color films converted to video. By special arrangement with the photographer, we are now able to offer our readers The Guy Wicksall Traction Collection (1963-1975) on DVD (details below, at the end of this post).

All the photos in this post are screen grabs from the Wicksall Collection. We figured the best way to introduce these films to you would be to go to the source, and discuss them with Guy himself.

Here is an edited transcript of my conversation with the man behind the movies from October 10, 2016.  Mr. Wicksall is now 81 years old and lives in the Finger Lakes area in upstate New York.

-David Sadowski


How long have you been making movies?

I started making movies in 1960. I have right now, some 59 DVDs. If I could ever get the money together, I have enough material for another 30 or 40.

That’s pretty incredible. What subject matter would most of them be?

Most of it is anything that ran on steel rails (laughs), there are a few exceptions, I have a few of the aerial cable ways in Switzerland. I have a real short piece, a 15-minute piece, on the Minnesota Transportation Museum trolleys.

And what percentage of your film footage would you say is devoted to electric traction?

Oh, probably 5 percent, maybe as much as 10 when you count in the European stuff.

And was it all 16mm that you shot?

Not all of it. The first few years I was shooting 8mm. When Kodak came out with their Super 8, my local photo shop loaned me a sample of Kodak Super 8 film, and I looked at that, and compared it with the 8mm, and decided that the 8mm wasn’t suitable, and the Super 8 wasn’t any better, so I changed at that time to 16mm.

(Editor’s note: Kodak introduced Super 8 in 1965, but some of Mr. Wicksall’s 16mm films date back to 1963. You can read more about these film formats here.)

And how much larger is the 16mm film area that the 8mm?

Oh, well, it’s at least four times the area.

That makes a tremendous difference as far as the quality is concerned. I’m very pleased with the excellent quality of the films that you made, because I am used to seeing videos made up from 8mm, where the picture is so fuzzy that if you made a screen shot of it, you’d hardly know what it was a picture of.

Right. I know what you mean. And, talking with people, it seems that the Super 8 got worse as the years went by. They tried to push the speed, it hurt the quality of the image.

Was it Kodachrome or Ektachrome, or both?

Kodachrome.

What was the film speed back then?

Well, I started out with 25 ASA, and I think I got to 64 at some point.

And what kind of film was available for 16mm? Was it also Kodachrome?

Yes. I always shot Kodachrome on the 16mm.

And then, at some point, did you switch over to using video?

Yes, I got pushed into it by the cost, when I started shooting 16 it was about $9 for a 50-foot reel, and it went to $70, and I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to go to something that was a little more reasonable. Unfortunately, I lost a little quality on the early Hi8 camera I used.

Sure. But now they keep coming up with new formats for the video, they’ve got this new one called 4k, which is the best one yet.

Well, the big problem is they keep changing formats so quickly. Now I’ve had three different video cameras with three different setups. A couple used Hi8, and the last one is digital video on SD cards, and things keep changing.

Regarding some of the film on the two traction discs, I could ask you a few questions. You made some business trips to Chicago, is that how you ended up making some films around Chicago?

Some of it was business trips to Chicago, and some of it was just plain vacation. I didn’t get a lot of business trips. The stuff shot in New York was on business trips, and some of the stuff shot in Chicago was on business trips, but not all of it.

In ’63 or so, you took some film on the “L”. It looked like you were at what they now call Adams and Wabash station, watching some trains come around into the station, and you’ve got some footage where you rode out on the Lake Street “L” to Oak Park.

Right.

That was the year after they had elevated that one section, the outer end of the Lake Street “L”, it ran on the ground for 2 ½ miles on the west end, and I saw that you had a glimpse there showing the track was still in place, even though you were up on the embankment. But it looks like they had paved over the grade crossings.

I was wondering a little bit what that track was.

Until October 28, 1962, the west end of the Lake Street “L” ran on the ground, west of the Laramie station. There was a ramp that went down to ground level and it ran parallel to the Chicago and North Western embankment there, using overhead wire. They had trolley poles on the trains, and clearances were very tight. There were something like 22 grade crossings, blind crossings, where you could easily have an accident where a vehicle would run under that viaduct and run right into a train. It was kind of dangerous. These were manually operated gates, so there was a lot of manpower involved.

The CTA wanted to reduce expenses, improve the running time, and safety, so they made a deal with the Chicago and North Western in the 1950s to relocate the tracks onto the embankment, which had probably been put up sometime around 1910. It was a big project which involved a variety of different government bodies, the Village of Oak Park, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, the State of Illinois, and it was a “win-win” situation, because everybody benefited from the relocation of the tracks. When they got rid of those tracks, that made the street wider, and it allowed for more parking, and of course there were a lot of improvements based on the quicker running time for the trains, and since it was grade separated, there weren’t going to be any more accidents with pedestrians and vehicles.

I grew up in the area around Oak Park, so we rode those trains many times when they ran on the ground. The clearances were so tight that they couldn’t run the 6000-series “L” cars, which had curved sides, and just that little bit of extra room was enough that they couldn’t run those cars on that part of the line. I noticed also that you had taken some film showing trains going up the ramp out of the old Hamlin Yard, which was near Lake and Pulaski.

You remind me of what was in that video. A lot of it, I’ve forgotten. Of course, it’s been a few years, I’ve had some time to forget stuff.

Yeah, for car storage then, they really didn’t have a proper yard as such at the end of the line, which was in Forest Park, just west of Harlem Avenue. For car storage, they had this Hamlin Yard, across the street from West Shops, used by the Surface Lines. They had streetcar trackage running in and out of there, where they had overhead wire. They also had a third track on the Lake Street “L” where they stored some cars. You had some great shots of all of that.

And then you had shots of the South Shore Line and the Illinois Central Electric, showing the old IC cars from 1926, plus the Highliners, the bi-levels that were replacing them back in the ’70s.

Yes, yes.

All great stuff. Those first generation Highliners have now been retired, just within the last year or so, and they’ve been replaced by something very similar, but more modern.

That’s the thing about a lot of this railfanning. I’ve been at it long enough that sometimes, the things have been replaced, and sometimes the replacements have been replaced.

Right. And on the South Shore Line, all those old cars have been replaced. I think that many of them have been saved, by many railway museums, and there are a few of them that actually operate some, like the Illinois Railway Museum, and the East Troy Electric Railroad in Wisconsin. I did ride those cars a few times in their twilight years. Those cars were replaced by some Japanese-made vehicles around 1981, and now they even have some bi-levels of their own. They piggybacked on an order of cars for the Metra Electric, which runs the service now that used to be the Illinois Central suburban. They just use them during weekday rush hours. There is even now some talk of double-tracking the rest of the line out to South Bend.

It’s been a lot of changes.

Your first shots there of the South Shore Line were taken in 1971 or so. Up until the summer of 1970, they ran all the way into downtown South Bend. They had some street running there, which they cut back to the outskirts of town. Since that time, they built some new track to a nearby airport. There’s always been talk about grade separating the track that runs on the streets through Michigan City, but they haven’t done that yet. They keep arguing over which route they would use. So, at the moment, all those South Shore trains run right down the street through Michigan City, like they have for many, many decades.

You had some great footage in other places too, like in San Francisco, amazing shots of all that wonderful old equipment. Fortunately, they still have some old equipment running, on those historic lines they’ve come up with, and then Red Arrow, some great footage there of the Red Arrow Lines. Do you have some memories of those visits?

Oh yes. I have some memories, but I don’t have the details. I have to watch the videos to see what I saw.

There’s a lot out east, New York and New Jersey.

I’ve got a lot of, oh dear, Conrail. I was looking here, I’ve got Minnesota Transportation Museum, September ’74, that’s 11 minutes. There’s another one that’s about 15 minutes, that shows the same stuff years later.

Some of the east coast stuff would be interesting to many people. There’s a friend of mine who lives in New Jersey. I’m sure he would love to see your footage of the Gladstone Branch, the Erie Lackawanna. Some of that reminds me of, the old cars there, reminds me a lot of the ones that were used on the Illinois Central.

Trains have changed so much in the last 50 years.

Sure, those lines are running too, but they’re all NJ Transit.

Now, the Como-Harriet trolley (Minneapolis-St. Paul), I have the one reel from 1974, and another one that shows the same thing in 1998, with expansion and so on. Anyway, I’ve got these two, which add up to another oh, 26 minutes. They might be of some small interest too.

Oh, sure.

I used to show my movies to the Syracuse chapter of the NRHS. I wore out a projector doing that. Now I’ve gotta get off the phone. My wife is calling me for supper.

I have no objection to your making copies of these DVDs, and to sell them. I am quite happy with it. My thought is, it does no good sitting on my shelf. I would rather have it spread as widely as possible, and you look like you might be a good person to do that.

It’s been so nice talking to you. We’ll be in touch. Thanks so much. Take care.

You’re welcome.


The original Illinois Central Electric trains, which were built in 1926.

The original Illinois Central Electric trains, which were built in 1926.

4000s pass the old Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren in Chicago's Loop.

4000s pass the old Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren in Chicago’s Loop.

A Lake train of 4000s approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963, when the Loop was single-directional.

A Lake train of 4000s approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963, when the Loop was single-directional.

A two-car CTA Ravenswood train approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963.

A two-car CTA Ravenswood train approaches Adams and Wabash in 1963.

In 1963, the old Lake Street Transfer station had not yet been torn down. It was removed the following year. Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains stopped running on the other level here in 1951.

In 1963, the old Lake Street Transfer station had not yet been torn down. It was removed the following year. Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains stopped running on the other level here in 1951.

A quick glimpse of CTA trolley bus 9649.

A quick glimpse of CTA trolley bus 9649.

A Milwaukee Road train in the early 1960s. Not sure if this is inter-city or commuter service. Bi-levels were being phased in on the MR commuter lines. David Vartanoff adds: "The Milw Road train is a commuter run. By the time he was filming, intercity cars had been repainted to UP as the E-7 was."

A Milwaukee Road train in the early 1960s. Not sure if this is inter-city or commuter service. Bi-levels were being phased in on the MR commuter lines. David Vartanoff adds: “The Milw Road train is a commuter run. By the time he was filming, intercity cars had been repainted to UP as the E-7 was.”

The photographer was on a northbound Evanston train that was pacing a Howard train of 6000s.

The photographer was on a northbound Evanston train that was pacing a Howard train of 6000s.

4000s pass the old Tower 18 in Chicago's Loop. It was torn down and relocated in 1969 so that Lake Street trains could go directly east at this point, when that line was paired with the new Dan Ryan service.

4000s pass the old Tower 18 in Chicago’s Loop. It was torn down and relocated in 1969 so that Lake Street trains could go directly east at this point, when that line was paired with the new Dan Ryan service.

CTA single-car units under wire in Evanston in 1963.

CTA single-car units under wire in Evanston in 1963.

A Pennsy GG1.

A Pennsy GG1.

A New Haven train emerges from a tunnel in Manhattan.

A New Haven train emerges from a tunnel in Manhattan.

A New York rapid transit train on the 7 line in 1964.

A New York rapid transit train on the 7 line in 1964.

The New York Central in Manhattan.

The New York Central in Manhattan.

To this day, San Francisco operates trolley buses as well as PCCs.

To this day, San Francisco operates trolley buses as well as PCCs.

SF Muni PCC 1021 and a 1955-57 two-seater Thunderbird roadster.

SF Muni PCC 1021 and a 1955-57 two-seater Thunderbird roadster.

SF Muni double-end PCC 1015.

SF Muni double-end PCC 1015.

A San Francisco cable car in the late 1960s.

A San Francisco cable car in the late 1960s.

Red Arrow Strafford car 163 on a curve.

Red Arrow Strafford car 163 on a curve.

Red Arrow Strafford car 164.

Red Arrow Strafford car 164.

A Strafford car with a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) behind it at 69th Street.

A Strafford car with a Liberty Liner (ex-North Shore Line Electroliner) behind it at 69th Street.

A Bullet car on the Norristown High-Speed Line.

A Bullet car on the Norristown High-Speed Line.

A train of Philadelphia "Almond Joys" at 69th Street Terminal.

A train of Philadelphia “Almond Joys” at 69th Street Terminal.

St. Louis-built double-end car 16 (not an official PCC, although it certainly looks like one) on the Red Arrow.

St. Louis-built double-end car 16 (not an official PCC, although it certainly looks like one) on the Red Arrow.

Red Arrow Brilliner #1 at 69th Street.

Red Arrow Brilliner #1 at 69th Street.

David Vartanoff: "PRR never had RDCs. That is an NYC (New York Central) car."

David Vartanoff: “PRR never had RDCs. That is an NYC (New York Central) car.”

David Vartanoff: "The PRR EMU you show is NYC (New York Central). The under running third rail is the clue."

David Vartanoff: “The PRR EMU you show is NYC (New York Central). The under running third rail is the clue.”

Erie Lackawanna.

Erie Lackawanna.

A Penn Central train.

A Penn Central train.

An Erie Lackawanna train in New Jersey.

An Erie Lackawanna train in New Jersey.

700-series electric freight locos.

700-series electric freight locos.

The South Shore Line shops in Michigan City.

The South Shore Line shops in Michigan City.

The South Shore Line in Indiana.

The South Shore Line in Indiana.

South Shore Line car 108 in Chicago.

South Shore Line car 108 in Chicago.

An Illinois Central bi-level whose end has not yet been repainted in brighter colors.

An Illinois Central bi-level whose end has not yet been repainted in brighter colors.

IC Highliners downtown.

IC Highliners downtown.

Illinois Central bi-levels in Chicago, with the old Central Station in the background.

Illinois Central bi-levels in Chicago, with the old Central Station in the background.


Recent Correspondence

Father Thomas Nagle writes:

Hello…hope you can point me in the right direction. I remember seeing CTA wreck wagons as a kid and was always fascinated by them. They looked like CFD rigs to me with Mars lights, gongs and sirens and even red and green headlights. Are there any photos of them available anywhere? I’ve googled them and come up empty. Thank you.

Fr Thomas Nangle
CPD chaplain retired

Perhaps our readers may have some pictures, thanks!

One of our regular readers writes:

Why didn’t the CSL/CTA ever install Post War PCC cars on Ashland Avenue? The street was as wide as Western Avenue from the north end to the south end. All that would have been necessary would have been the construction of an off street loop (such as Western and Berwyn) at 95th Street and a connecting track off of northbound Clark to southbound Southport at the north terminal.

PS: Is it possible that Ashland and Milwaukee might have been slated for PCCs if they had ordered 1,000 as had been originally thought?

In 1937, when the “Green Book” plan was issued, the City of Chicago envisioned replacing half the existing streetcar fleet with PCCs, and the other half with buses (some of which would have been trolley buses). But the report noted that at some future date, buses might be able to handle all the traffic.

Half the fleet, at that time, would have been something more like 1,500 PCC cars. That the number was soon reduced to 1,000 probably reflects the continuing trend toward buses.

Milwaukee would have to be a candidate for PCCs, since one PCC (4051) was operated there in 1940-41, on a test basis with the altered door configuration that CSL adopted for the postwar cars.

On the other hand, arguing against that is the plan, formulated in 1939, for the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway. Only the outer portion of Milwaukee truly made sense to run PCCs if you were going to have a greatly improved, more direct rapid transit service running in a subway on Milwaukee. PCCs would have done well in feeder service between the Imlay Loop at the city limits and the Logan Square terminal.

Offhand, I don’t know where Ashland would stack up in a list of the heaviest lines. But certainly the prevailing wisdom at CSL in the 1930s and 40s was to use streetcars for the heaviest lines, trolley buses for the medium ones, and gas or diesel buses for the rest. I assume that Ashland had plenty enough ridership to be considered for PCCs, though, and it would have been an excellent choice.

Ridership in the WWII era was heavy enough that CSL and the City planned to assign the 600 postwar PCCs to just four major lines. But by the time the deliveries were complete, this had been expanded to six lines, since ridership was declining.

What we don’t know is how strategic these assignments were, with the thought of creating an ongoing streetcar system for Chicago that could have continued into the future. One thought is that perhaps the CTA and the City felt that they had to spread the new cars around, so that more neighborhoods would benefit from the new service.

If that was a consideration, it would argue against Ashland, since it ran parallel to Western and went to many of the same parts of town. It would argue in favor of choosing a street like 63rd, which ran east-west on the south side and therefore served different neighborhoods.

In any event, by 1947 the CTA, even as it was still taking deliveries on the postwar order, seems to have planned for the gradual phasing out of streetcars, even the PCC ones. The 1947 CTA modernization plan (which you can read in my E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story), which covered the years 1946-1955, anticipated having only three streetcar lines left by 1955, which is pretty much what actually did happen. Presumably, they would have phased those out in the years following 1955, if another such plan had been published.

Furthermore, it was not always possible for CTA to put turnback loops where they wanted them. The area around 95th and Ashland was built up and who knows what locations would have been available.

There were plans to build a loop for the 36-Broadway at 115th that never materialized, due to neighborhood opposition. And the Grand-Nordica trolley bus loop for route 65 – Grand could only be put a couple blocks away from Harlem, which would have been much the preferred location.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks. You can always reach us at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com


New From Trolley Dodger Press

VIDEOS ON DVD:

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

South Shore Line car 102 in downtown Chicago.

The Guy Wicksall Traction Collection (1963-1975)

Our latest release, by special arrangement with Guy Wicksall, features video transfers of rare, high quality 16mm color films of electric railroads taken across the country between 1963 and 1975. These are much better quality than the more typical 8mm films railfans used back then. If you like classic railfan videos, you are sure to enjoy this collection, which features narration by the photographer. Mr. Wicksall receives a royalty on each disc sold.

Disc 1: 38 Chicago and New York Commuter Trains, 1963-1964 (18:24)
Includes Illinois Central Electric, South Shore Line, Chicago Transit Authority “L” trains in the Loop, on Lake Street, Howard, and Evanston lines, Chicago & North Western and Milwaukee Road commuters, Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central, Long Island Rail Road, New Haven, and New York elevated trains.

Disc 2: 48 Commuter Trains, 1968-1975 (57:22)
Includes San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) PCCs (some double-ended), trolley buses, and cable cars, Philadelphia Suburban (Red Arrow Lines), including Straffords and Bullets), Penn Central, New Haven, Erie Lackawanna, South Shore Line, Illinois Central Electric, and more.

Total time – 75:46

# of Discs – 2
Price: $24.95


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 161st post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 206,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a contribution there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

Highlights from The “New Look,” Part 2

The Forest Park CTA terminal in June 1959. CA&E had stopped running here nearly two years earlier, which facilitated expressway construction (it opened here in 1960). If CA&E had resumed it would have used the track and platform at the left of the CTA property, begging the question of why a temporary track wasn’t instead built using one of the nearby CGW tracks.

The Forest Park CTA terminal in June 1959. CA&E had stopped running here nearly two years earlier, which facilitated expressway construction (it opened here in 1960). If CA&E had resumed it would have used the track and platform at the left of the CTA property, begging the question of why a temporary track wasn’t instead built using one of the nearby CGW tracks.

In the second of two posts, our last for this year, we again feature highlights from our recent E-book collection, The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973. Today’s highlights are from the CTA Transit News and mainly cover the period 1958-61. You will find the first installment here.

There is a tremendous amount of useful information in the Transit News, and there are thousands of pages of material on this DVD data disc we are offering.

FYI, all current orders for The “New Look” have now shipped.

DVD03CoverA.PNG

The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973
Edited by David Sadowski

Over a period of 35 years, between 1938 and 1973, Chicago’s transit system was radically transformed, for better or for worse.

This transformation included the creation of the Chicago Transit Authority in 1945 by act of the state legislature. CTA represented public ownership and unification of Chicago’s mass transit system. The Chicago Rapid Transit Company, Chicago Surface Lines, and (later) Chicago Motor Coach Company were all merged.

The venerable Loop “L” was supplemented by two new subways, under State and Dearborn streets. Several “L” lines and dozens of stations were abandoned. New rapid transit lines were built in three different expressways.

Streetcars and trolley buses were eliminated, as were many grade crossings. Two of Chicago’s three major interurbans expired.

High-speed rapid transit cars were developed by the Chicago Transit Authority, and put into use on the new Skokie Swift service and, eventually, throughout the system. Air conditioning became standard on rapid transit cars.

By the early 1960s, the CTA began calling it a “New Look” in transit.

Now, to examine this transformation, we have collected many original CTA source documents from this revolution together in one place, as our third DVD data disc release, The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973, edited by David Sadowski.

Since our previous release Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story covered surface system changes, this new collection’s primary focus is rapid transit. Naturally, there is some overlap between the two E-books, but The “New Look” includes over 1000 pages of new material, including:

An introductory essay by transit historian David Sadowski, which puts the era into perspective

Special commemorative publications put out by the City of Chicago in 1943 and 1951, when the State Street and Dearborn subways opened

43 entire issues of CTA Transit News in hi-res (an employee publication, primarily covering the important transition period from 1958 through 1961), plus additional scans from 1964-65, 1967-68, and 1969-70

High-resolution scans of the 1958 and 1961 CTA Annual Reports (all reports from 1945-76 are also included in lower-res scans)

Rapid transit system track maps

A short book, The Story of the Chicago Rapid Transit Lines (circa 1938)

Numerous CTA pamphlets, covering A/B “skip stop” service, Rider’s Reader, opening of the Congress rapid transit line, “New Look” (aka “Fishbowl”) buses, bus overhaul shops, and the elevation of the outer end of the Lake Street “L”.

In addition, we have included a variety of CTA technical publications, including the operation of various old interlockings, signal systems, and troubleshooting manuals for the 4000-series rapid transit cars.

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.95


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 108th post this year, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 107,500 page views from 30,500 individuals.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

PS- As we approach our one-year anniversary next month, the deadline for renewing our premium WordPress account comes due in less than 30 days. This includes out Internet domain www.thetrolleydodger.com, much of the storage space we use for the thousands of files posted here, and helps keep this an ads-free experience for our readers. Your contributions towards this goal are greatly appreciated, in any amount.


It's an uphill climb, keeping this thing going.  But we can do it with your help.

It’s an uphill climb, keeping this thing going. But we can do it with your help.

Space- The Final Frontier

One of our readers writes:

None of the pictures on this ‘thread’ are enlargeable, with the sole exception of the cover graphic piece. I don’t think it’s my PC as all the others readily enlarge.

We’ve just about run out of our 13 GB allotment of storage space for images. As a short-term fix, I started another free WordPress blog, which gives us an additional 3 GB. However, it seems that as a result, the pictures are not enlargeable.

This may be because they are links that are not pointed to the storage space for this blog, even though it’s just another WordPress blog. I’ll have to find out if there is a way to get around this issue, at least until more funds are available and we can purchase additional storage space from WordPress, thanks. Your contributions will help solve this issue, and we appreciate them.

2015 In Review

This blog started on January 21, 2015. During the year, we made 108 posts, which included a few thousand high quality images. For our first 107 posts, we have reached more than 107,000 page views, and average of more than 1000 per post, and this figure is gradually increasing.

This means that over time, we are building up a following. More people are looking at the new posts, and more people are in turn looking at the old posts. We welcome all of our visitors as guests to our virtual home and thank you for stopping by.

We also released nearly 30 new products, three important Ebook collections, and more than two dozen CD collections featuring the sounds of vintage streetcars, interurbans, and steam engines.

For 2016, we hope to finally complete our efforts to make the entire Railroad Record Club catalog available once again. We also hope to issue new recordings in the spirit of the RRC. Watch this space for further details.

1957 SF Muni PCC Leasing

FYI, we recently came across an interesting 1957 document from San Francisco’s Municipal Railway (Muni). The last new PCC streetcar built in America was made for Muni in 1952 (car #1040, and they still have it).

Anyhow, five years later they wanted to lease PCCs from other cities that still had them and no longer wanted them. While I know they eventually bought PCCs from other cities, I do not know whether they did on fact lease any.

However, the document is interesting because it specifies what Muni wanted in a standard PCC car. They had to be postwar cars and meet certain specifications made by the Transit Research Corporation. (TRC was the successor to the ERPCC, the Electric Railway Presidents’ Conference Committee, holder of the various PCC patents.)

This was the period where the CTA was finishing up dismantling the Chicago streetcar system. While 570 of the 600 postwar Chicago PCCs were scrapped for parts recycling, there were about two dozen cars that CTA tried to sell at the end of service.

A middleman purchased nearly all of them, with the idea of selling them to another city, such as Mexico City. Ultimately, no other city could be found that could use them, because they had non-standard dimensions.

Chicago had what you might call “Super PCCs.” These were longer than standard cars, had a unique third set of rear doors, and were designed for two-man operation, although some were eventually converted to one-man operation.

Although in the short run, this made it harder to sell the cars to another city, it was a prescient design. Since the 1950s, there has been a trend towards longer and longer streetcars, and the Flexitys now being delivered to Toronto dwarf even the Super PCCs that Chicago had.

We have added this 1957 document to our E-book collection Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available through our Online Store.

You can read it here.

Happy New Year! See you in 2016.

-David Sadowski


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CTA found creative ways for recycling many of the wooden “L” cars that were retired in the 1950s. A few dozen of such cars were lined up at Skokie Shops and used for storage, until a new building was built on the property.

CTA found creative ways for recycling many of the wooden “L” cars that were retired in the 1950s. A few dozen of such cars were lined up at Skokie Shops and used for storage, until a new building was built on the property.

This Transit News article offers a logical explanation of why the 51st-55th trolley bus route was converted to motor buses in 1959, almost exactly one year after the last streetcar ran in Chicago. The City turned part of a street over to developers, and rather than reroute the trolley bus line, which would have involved an expense, CTA at first wanted to cut service back. They soon decided it would be better to separate 51st and 55th into two separate motor bus routes instead. Similar considerations were involved previously when route 4 Cottage Grove streetcar line was converted to bus in 1955. For a while, Cottage Grove PCCs ran through a no man’s land of a street closed off to car traffic, where all nearby buildings had been torn down. The City Council granted this operation reprieves six months at a time until abandonment. Similarly, the timing of bus conversion on route 49 – Western was influenced by the City’s desire to build a flyover on Western at Belmont, near Riverview. If the CTA had been committed to electric surface transit, of course, they would have found a way to make these investments. Instead, all three examples were part of a gradual phase-out.

This Transit News article offers a logical explanation of why the 51st-55th trolley bus route was converted to motor buses in 1959, almost exactly one year after the last streetcar ran in Chicago. The City turned part of a street over to developers, and rather than reroute the trolley bus line, which would have involved an expense, CTA at first wanted to cut service back. They soon decided it would be better to separate 51st and 55th into two separate motor bus routes instead.
Similar considerations were involved previously when route 4 Cottage Grove streetcar line was converted to bus in 1955. For a while, Cottage Grove PCCs ran through a no man’s land of a street closed off to car traffic, where all nearby buildings had been torn down. The City Council granted this operation reprieves six months at a time until abandonment.
Similarly, the timing of bus conversion on route 49 – Western was influenced by the City’s desire to build a flyover on Western at Belmont, near Riverview.
If the CTA had been committed to electric surface transit, of course, they would have found a way to make these investments. Instead, all three examples were part of a gradual phase-out.

It’s unthinkable today, of course, to simply burn rail vehicles as a means of disposing of them, but air pollution was not such a concern in 1959 when this picture was taken. Neither was historic preservation—on some occasions railfans threw the matches and started the fires.

It’s unthinkable today, of course, to simply burn rail vehicles as a means of disposing of them, but air pollution was not such a concern in 1959 when this picture was taken. Neither was historic preservation—on some occasions railfans threw the matches and started the fires.

To this day, CTA trains on the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line use this bridge to cross over DesPlaines Avenue. But when the bridge was built, there was a crossing at grade behind the bridge. Typically, expressway bridges were dug out and built first, and the rest of the highway followed.

To this day, CTA trains on the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line use this bridge to cross over DesPlaines Avenue. But when the bridge was built, there was a crossing at grade behind the bridge. Typically, expressway bridges were dug out and built first, and the rest of the highway followed.

In 1959, CTA had fanciful ideas of operating a multiple unit bus train, and in fact there were other experiments with these concepts on the east coast that did not pan out. The Red Arrow Lines hoped such a vehicle would allow them to operate buses over tracks where their franchise required rail. Perhaps CTA hoped to operate such a service in the median of the Stevenson expressway, which never did receive a transit line.

In 1959, CTA had fanciful ideas of operating a multiple unit bus train, and in fact there were other experiments with these concepts on the east coast that did not pan out. The Red Arrow Lines hoped such a vehicle would allow them to operate buses over tracks where their franchise required rail. Perhaps CTA hoped to operate such a service in the median of the Stevenson expressway, which never did receive a transit line.

Another view of that 1959 wooden “L” car bonfire.

Another view of that 1959 wooden “L” car bonfire.

These terminal facilities, primitive by today’s standards, remained in use until the present DesPlaines Blue Line terminal was built in the 1980s.

These terminal facilities, primitive by today’s standards, remained in use until the present DesPlaines Blue Line terminal was built in the 1980s.

Throughout 1959, the old Garfield Park “L” structure was gradually being dismantled. This picture dates to around October. Meanwhile, the CTA finished working on the Congress line as far west as Central. This means that any connections that still remained with the old Laramie Yard were cut, which was necessary for the extension of the expressway at this point. Such tracks would have crossed the highway. If not for the DesPlaines terminal, an expensive permanent track connection, either via a subway or flyover, would have been needed between the Congress line and Laramie Yard.

Throughout 1959, the old Garfield Park “L” structure was gradually being dismantled. This picture dates to around October. Meanwhile, the CTA finished working on the Congress line as far west as Central. This means that any connections that still remained with the old Laramie Yard were cut, which was necessary for the extension of the expressway at this point. Such tracks would have crossed the highway. If not for the DesPlaines terminal, an expensive permanent track connection, either via a subway or flyover, would have been needed between the Congress line and Laramie Yard.

The view looking east from about 612 S. Kilpatrick today. If the location in the previous picture is correct, it looks like the old Garfield Park "L" structure occupied the space just to the right of the alley.

The view looking east from about 612 S. Kilpatrick today. If the location in the previous picture is correct, it looks like the old Garfield Park “L” structure occupied the space just to the right of the alley.

Use of concrete support columns here foreshadowed their later use for other latter-day CTA “L”s.

Use of concrete support columns here foreshadowed their later use for other latter-day CTA “L”s.

Work on elevating the outer portion of Lake, planned for several years, got underway early in 1960.

Work on elevating the outer portion of Lake, planned for several years, got underway early in 1960.

These experimental high-speed rapid transit cars were termed “circus wagons” by the fans, but they eventually formed the backbone of service on the Skokie Swift for many years and paved the way for the various series of cars that have followed.

These experimental high-speed rapid transit cars were termed “circus wagons” by the fans, but they eventually formed the backbone of service on the Skokie Swift for many years and paved the way for the various series of cars that have followed.

This is one of the very first CTA trains to use the permanent routing into the DesPlaines terminal on March 20, 1960. This bridge, originally designed for three tracks, is still in use. But with expressway construction far from finished, note the grade crossing right behind the bridge. That implies that the bridge was built first and then the area around it was later cleared out for the highway. Cars today go underneath the “L”. Behind the train, you can see a handsome 1939 field house, still in use today in a nearby park.

This is one of the very first CTA trains to use the permanent routing into the DesPlaines terminal on March 20, 1960. This bridge, originally designed for three tracks, is still in use. But with expressway construction far from finished, note the grade crossing right behind the bridge. That implies that the bridge was built first and then the area around it was later cleared out for the highway. Cars today go underneath the “L”. Behind the train, you can see a handsome 1939 field house, still in use today in a nearby park.

The temporary tracks veered off to the left at this point and seem to have continued at ground level. Meanwhile, the structures that carry the B&OCT over the CTA are at rear. Previously the two lines crossed at grade.

The temporary tracks veered off to the left at this point and seem to have continued at ground level. Meanwhile, the structures that carry the B&OCT over the CTA are at rear. Previously the two lines crossed at grade.

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Removing the old temporary CTA tracks.

Removing the old temporary CTA tracks.

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The CTA completed its project to have four tracks through the Wilson area around April, 1961.

The CTA completed its project to have four tracks through the Wilson area around April, 1961.

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What this blurb does not answer is why a two-block section of the old Humboldt Park “L” was even kept at all after the branch line was abandoned in the early 1950s. Rumor has it that a portion was kept in case it could be used for mid-day storage of trains from the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin in case it had resumed service. In that event, CA&E steel cars would have operated through the subway and deadheaded to North Avenue and storage tracks on this small portion of Humboldt. Alas, it was not to be. This picture was taken around September 1961, by which time the interurban was liquidating. By the following month, the Humboldt remnant was gone too.

What this blurb does not answer is why a two-block section of the old Humboldt Park “L” was even kept at all after the branch line was abandoned in the early 1950s. Rumor has it that a portion was kept in case it could be used for mid-day storage of trains from the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin in case it had resumed service. In that event, CA&E steel cars would have operated through the subway and deadheaded to North Avenue and storage tracks on this small portion of Humboldt. Alas, it was not to be. This picture was taken around September 1961, by which time the interurban was liquidating. By the following month, the Humboldt remnant was gone too.

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During the 1960-62 work to put the west end of Lake onto the C&NW embankment, we have a transitional view, showing the new ramp onto the embankment at right, and the reworked ramp down to street level at left.

During the 1960-62 work to put the west end of Lake onto the C&NW embankment, we have a transitional view, showing the new ramp onto the embankment at right, and the reworked ramp down to street level at left.

Chicago Cable Cars and Streetcar RPOs

Except for a ceremonial event in 1946, the era of Chicago streetcar RPOs ended on November 21, 1915, less than two years into the CSL era. This photo was taken on October 14, 1938 by Edward Frank Jr., who described the car's colors as tannish yellow gold with gold letters and trimmings. The location is the Lincoln Avenue car barn (aka

Except for a ceremonial event in 1946, the era of Chicago streetcar RPOs ended on November 21, 1915, less than two years into the CSL era. This photo was taken on October 14, 1938 by Edward Frank Jr., who described the car’s colors as tannish yellow gold with gold letters and trimmings. The location is the Lincoln Avenue car barn (aka “station”). According to Don’s Rail Photos, “H2 was built by West Chicago Street Ry in 1895 as 3. It became CRys 3 and renumbered H2 in 1913. It became CSL H2 in 1914.” Presumably it survived at least until 1938 as some sort of work car.

Most people are likely unaware that Chicago once operated an extensive network of cable cars, or that cable cars and streetcars were used as mobile post offices between 1895 and 1915.

Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.

*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.

Streetcar RPOs represented a real improvement in service in their time, but eventually were replaced by trucks as vehicles and roads improved in the early 20th century. These special trolleys collected, moved, sorted, and cancelled mail along their routes through the city. Many had slots where mail could be deposited on the street.

The Mobile Post Office Society has published several monographs on streetcar RPO operations, including one on Chicago written by John R. Mason and Raymond A. Fleming.

Chicago’s streetcar RPOs survived into the Surface Lines era, but just briefly, last being used on November 21, 1915. However, there was one later ceremonial operation during a 1946 stamp collector’s convention.

Likewise, although the last Chicago cable car ran in 1906, there was also one later operation at the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair. As we discussed in an earlier post, the success of this fair is widely regarded as having led to the creation of McCormick Place on Chicago’s lakefront.

Although this short cable car demonstration line is long gone, car #524 itself, renumbered to #24, is still in service in San Francisco as of this writing. Here is a history of the car:

Built by the Mahoney Bros., San Francisco, in 1887 for the Ferries & Cliff House Railway (Powell Street Railway). The Mahoney Bros. subcontracted with Burnham-Standeford in Oakland, California, to build its cars. Assigned to the Sacramento-Clay cable car line before the Earthquake and Fire of 1906, the United Railroads transferred it back to the Powell Street cable car lines in 1907. Renumbered from original No. 534 to No. 524 by the Market Street Railway on December 16, 1929.

CSL car #6, a small single truck streetcar RPO from 1891, is preserved at the Fox River Trolley Museum.

As a further example of how times have changed, we offer a couple of rare Chicago transit memos from 1893. Most likely lots of such memos circulated back in the days before e-mail, but few have survived.

The first memo is on Chicago City Railway Co. stationary and is dated November 13, 1893:

Mr. Jos(eph) Gillett.

Please read the following to the men working on the motor cars with you.

The men must work near the door where the light is and stay there, and not stay where it is dark to avoid the use of candles.

By Order of,

Wm. (William) Barthwaite (Master Mechanic)

The second note, on plain paper, is also addressed to the same individual and likely was preserved by him and his heirs:

Joe Gillet (sic?) 23/93

There is a complaint from 39 Barn that many nuts work loose from Scrapers & Sand-boxes. My orders are to prick-punch all nuts.

You will see that this is done.

Respect(fully)

F. Bundy

I had assumed that “prick-punch all nuts” meant to tighten them some more so they don’t come loose, but it turns out I was wrong.  Dan Gornstein says:

Regarding the prick punching, this is a practice of disturbing the bolt threads at the top of a tightened nut, with either a chisel or, as the name suggests, a “prick punch,” with a common name of a Center Punch.

H. Porter adds:

A “prick-punch” is taking a centerpunch and dotting the nut with it after the nut is tightened. This slighly deforms the nut making it less susceptible to vibrating loose. You can buy nuts with this slight deformity already there. Hand tools will still take them on and off.

-David Sadowski

PS- You can read the book Mail By Rail: the Story of the Postal Transportation Service here.  On page 231, the authors cite May 6, 1950 as the date when the “last true trolley car R.P.O.” ran in America on the Pacific electric interurban.

Seth Bramson comments:

I think that interurban electric railways should be included, as they ran under wires, and two that do not appear on the list are Los Angeles (Pacific Electric operated three or four RPO routes) and the one in Maine.

I would have to look it up but there was a trolley RPO route in lower Maine, along the seacoast, I believe and there might have been one in New Hampshire. I can’t think of them right now, but I believe that there were one or two other trolley RPO routes, not shown, perhaps because they were considered interurban.

A couple of other “factoids” regarding electric mail service: Seattle’s RPO was titled “Seattle & Seattle” and operated on a pretty large circuit; Baltimore’s last trolley RPO operated into the early 1930s; Rochester’s street RPOs were titled “Car Collection Service B, C or D”—I don’t think there was an “A;” Buffalo had a horse drawn wagon service with a postmark similar to RPO but I would have to look it up; great interurbans such as the CA&E, CNS & M, CSS & SB, Texas Electric, Illinois Terminal, Sacramento Northern and others did have mail contracts but for closed pouch only, no RPOs.

Because I was working in NY at the time, and had become friendly with the great RPO collector and clerk, Sidney Fingerhood, and went down to Penn Station regularly to see the last RPO trains operate, I was invited, in early July of 1976,  to ride the very last trip of the N Y & Wash RPO, all the way from NY Penn to Washington Union Station, but because I had to be at work the next day, I could only ride to Newark, but at least I can say that I was the only civilian who rode the very last trip of the last rail RPO in America. (And, yes, the comments are correct:  a boat RPO on, I think, Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire did operated until 1978 or thereabouts.)

It was a great and efficient service and the terrible problems with the postal service really began after the destruction of the RPO system, the blame due, in no small part, to Eisenhower, for a good few reasons not necessary to elaborate here.

An example of a

An example of a “duplex” cancellation made on a Chicago streetcar RPO in 1902.

Chicago City Railway cable trailer 209 in October 1938. Supposedly built around 1892, it appears to be a replica fabricated by CSL in 1934 using some original parts. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

Chicago City Railway cable trailer 209 in October 1938. Supposedly built around 1892, it appears to be a replica fabricated by CSL in 1934 using some original parts. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Alfred Seibel Photo)

San Francisco Municipal Railway #524 in Chicago on August 28, 1948 at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This was the actual last cable car to operate in Chicago, and was done under the sponsorship of the Western Pacific Railroad. #524 has been renumbered #24 and is still in service in San Francisco after being extensively rebuilt by Muni in 1958. On September 2, 1956, car No. 524 also made the last trip on the Washington-Jackson line as the SF cable car network was consolidated.

San Francisco Municipal Railway #524 in Chicago on August 28, 1948 at the Chicago Railroad Fair. This was the actual last cable car to operate in Chicago, and was done under the sponsorship of the Western Pacific Railroad. #524 has been renumbered #24 and is still in service in San Francisco after being extensively rebuilt by Muni in 1958. On September 2, 1956, car No. 524 also made the last trip on the Washington-Jackson line as the SF cable car network was consolidated.

A rare Chicago City Railway Company memo dated November 13, 1893, ordering a reduction in the use of candles.

A rare Chicago City Railway Company memo dated November 13, 1893, ordering a reduction in the use of candles.

An 1893 note regarding a complaint from "39 Barn," which was located at the corner of 39th (Pershing) and Cottage Grove.

An 1893 note regarding a complaint from “39 Barn,” which was located at the corner of 39th (Pershing) and Cottage Grove.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation - Wentworth Avenue line, 7-1-1909.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation – Wentworth Avenue line, 7-1-1909.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation - North Clark St. line, 11-13-1902.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation – North Clark St. line, 11-13-1902.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation - Milwaukee Avenue line, 2-26-1906.

Chicago streetcar RPO cancellation – Milwaukee Avenue line, 2-26-1906.

The Mobile Post Office Society published a 72 page monograph on the Chicago streetcar RPO service in 1983.

The Mobile Post Office Society published a 72 page monograph on the Chicago streetcar RPO service in 1983.

St. Louis cable cars on Broadway looking north from Chestnut Street, 1894.

St. Louis cable cars on Broadway looking north from Chestnut Street, 1894.

This commemorative mailing gives November 11, 1929 as the last day of streetcar RPO service in the United States (not counting interurbans).

This commemorative mailing gives November 11, 1929 as the last day of streetcar RPO service in the United States (not counting interurbans).


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American Streetcar R.P.O.s: 1893-1929

Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.


*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.

Our latest E-book American Streetcar R.P.O.s collects 12 books on this subject (over 1000 pages in all) onto a DVD data disc that can be read on any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software. All have been out of print for decades and are hard to find. In addition, there is an introductory essay by David Sadowski.

The rolling stock, routes, operations, and cancellation markings of the various American street railway post office systems are covered in detail. The era of the streetcar R.P.O. was relatively brief, covering 1893 to 1929, but it represented an improvement in mail handling over what came before, and it moved a lot of mail. In many places, it was possible to deposit a letter into a mail slot on a streetcar or cable car and have it delivered across town within a short number of hours.

These operations present a very interesting history, but are not well-known to railfans. We feel they deserve greater scrutiny, and therefore we are donating $1 from each sale of this item to the Mobile Post Office Society, in support of their efforts.
# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.95